Benito Cerreno Analysis

1065 Words5 Pages
When Herman Melville wrote “Benito Cereno”, he used the phrase “follow your leader” repeatedly throughout the story. This poses the question: who is the leader? It would seem, based on context during different situations, “the leader” changes continuously throughout the duration of the story and provides different meanings based on who the leader is interpreted to be. The whole plot never seems to truly have one significant leader, but a rather cloudy group of possible leaders. It seems that Melville intentionally begins the story with the presentation of the idea of “the leader”. The paragraph from this section of the story is: Rudely painted or chalked, as in a sailor freak, along the forward side of a sort of pedestal below the canvas, was the sentence, “Seguid vuestro jefe,” (follow your leader)… (Melville, 167) At this point the title of “leader” belongs to a canvas-covered figure—perhaps indicating the…show more content…
Regardless of who the leader is, Babo uses it as a threat against Don Benito. The use of “follow your leader” in this situation is without a doubt a double entendre. The double meaning being that Don Benito can either follow his original leader (Don Alexandro) into death, or he can follow his new leader (Babo) and become a submissive marionette. The precise interpretation of who this leader actually is becomes very hazy, as it mainly depends on how Don Benito takes it to mean. Just as Melville opened the story with “the leader”, he appropriately concludes the story with this idea as well. Here is the
Open Document