That Delano Is A Shady Character

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"Readers' willingness to trust and agree with the narrator is their ultimate undoing."

-O'Connell (192)


I chose this quotation because I think it is applicable beyond "Benito Cereno" although "Cereno" is a story at the forefront of all other stories where we are betrayed by the narrator. No matter what story I pick up (as long as I get into it of course) I find myself falling in with the narrator. And good stories often have us smacking ourselves in the forehead saying, "Stupid! Why did you do that?" We care about the narrator (or the main character) because they have become someone to us. Usually on the first time reading of "Benito Cereno" people don't see what is coming and they buy into Delano being a kindly soul who is a bit daft. But just wait until the second reading! Every time Delano is around something shady is going on or being thought by him and you want to smack yourself for not realizing it the first time around.


Sue said:

That is so true. I read this before and seriously thought Cereno was up to something and that Delano was nice guy trying to help out. This is my second reading and everything seemed so obvious, I don't quite understand why Delano wasn't more suspicious about the slaves running around the ship free to do whatever.

Katie Vann said:

Michelle, you make a good point about how we often fall into believing the narrator of a story despite hints the author gives to us that indicate the narrator may be unreliable. Another good example is "The Yellow Wallpaper". I remember how most of us fell for that one. We all were trying to figure out what the author's intentions were through the narrator, which in the end we finally realized was unreliable. There are many stories that I could probably read over again and come up with a completely different interpretation than my original one just by looking at the narrator more closely.

james lohr said:

I felt the same way this time around...even after i finished this story the first time, i looked back and had that same feeling. I guess that just goes to show the power of the narrator, we want to believe what we are told, and if Delano believes it, why shouldn't we? In this instance, Delano has more background in these types of affairs than most of us...I have never been a sailor, a whaler, or a merchant. And everything Delano notices, could be explained just as he reasoned it in his own mind.

Jenna said:

I think it is natural to want to trust the narrators. They are our personal tour guides throughout a work. However, in “Benito Cereno” I felt that the narrator tried too hard in making us believe that Benito was the “bad guy” and so I thought that was suspicious.

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