We're following the leader, leader, leader...

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"Rudely painted or chalked, as in a sailor freak, along the forward side of a sort of pedestal below canvas, was the sentence 'Seguid vuestro jefe,' (follow your leader)"...Melville 491

I picked this quote and the sentence 'follow your leader' because it was so tragically poetic in the story "Benito Cereno." In the short story, Melville uses suspicion and denial as a technique to lead the readers on throughout the story. When I read this description and the quote on the boat, I knew it would be an important part of the story and wanted to read on to find out what it was all about, and why Delano was so suspicious about everything going on around him.

Melville threw me for a loop plenty of times and I was sure that Benito was the one in charge of what ever was going to happen (I suspected pirating), but was found wrong. Later I realized that there were multiple clues of the slaves revolting like the young slave boy hitting the white boy over the head and other slaves taking down one of the sailors, without any punishment.

But in this quote I was interested in the end when Babo was executed and Benito followed his leader poetically to his own death. I also connected the idea of their death to the skeleton that was hanging above the quote as we later learn in the story. And really I think I could have looked over these details if I hadn't found this quote interesting.

My only question is, why is the sentence written in Spanish? Was it just a device to catch the readers attention, and didn't the slave write it?

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I didn't even think about that Bethany. At first when you asked why it was written in Spanish, I thought immediately because Benito Cereno and his officers were Spanish. Then your question about the slave writing it made me think why a slave would have chosen to write it in the language of the officers they were trying to take over? I can't remember for sure, but didn't most of the slaves speak spanish as well on the ship? I can't remember for sure, but maybe that is why it was written in Spanish. But, as you mentioned, it also could have been a device used to catch the readers attention.

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