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7. Benito Cereno by Herman Melville (Ch 3 Summary and A Closer Look)

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

The primary narrative of this novella ends with this chapter. Next is a series of deposition documents describing the inquiry into the slave revolt.

In the summary I condense the key events of this chapter. In the closer look, I discuss three key points that are helpful in understanding this piece by Melville.

1) The core epistemological quandary I posed at the beginning, "A man who is incapable of comprehending a certain series of events is put in a situation where he must do exactly that." Throughout all three chapters we learn there are numerous reasons, Captain Delano is incapable of understanding the predicament he is in. But one that becomes explicit in this chapter is his racism.

2) The mystery is revealed in a general way, and this alters the image of all the bizarre events we have seen in the story.

3) the third point I make in the closer look section is a severe scrutiny of a particular image of Captain Deleno in the moments before he has his revelation regarding what has occurred on board The San Dominick. 


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