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Gullible and Simple-Minded

"As he thus responded, Captain Delano again glanced at Don Benito, but the latter's eyes were averted; while abruptly and awkwardly shifting the subject, he made some peevish allusion tot he calm and then, without apology, once more, with his attendant, withdrew to the opposite bulwarks,, where the whispering was resumed." (Melville 501)

This may seem like a strange and random quote, but for me this was my turning point in the story, this is when I began to grow suspicious of the servant. This scene happens directly after Don Benito asks Delano about the men and guns on his ship. At first I thought, oh, Benito is a pirate, or something of that nature, but there was something about the whole servant and whispering that was going on in these few scenes that didn't sit well with me. Above this passage that I quoted I have written "servant the master?" I knew something was not right with Babo and Benito's subservient way of reacting around him.

But, honestly Melville had me going quite a few times. It wasn't really till later that I figured out for sure that the slaves had taken over the ship, this was just where I became suspicious.

Do you think the reader-response to this text is as confusing now as it seemed to have been at an earlier time in history? Do you think this has to do with the way we view history and the way we view our own world and culture today?


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Comments (2)

Greta Carroll:

Mara, yeah, Melville had me going for a little while too with the thought that Don Benito was a pirate. As for whether the text is just as confusing now as it was in the past, I think it is still pretty confusing, but the irony was probably almost imperceptible to reader’s at that time since many people would have been all for people like Delano. As for why we can view it more clearly now, I think mainly it’s probably just because we distanced from the events it involved. I also think that we look at things more critically today and expect things to not be quite what they appear.

james lohr:

I believe for many original readers of this work, it would have been even more convoluted. At that time many readers would have seen the slaves on this ship as being unthinking savages. They would most likely have thought the idea of something such as this happening being completely unlikely, how could a slave do such a thing? On the other hand, when i first read this story i wasnt sure what was happening either. I think the story is doing exactly what it was meant to do, confuse the reader.

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