Study Guide

Alexandro Aranda in Benito Cereno

By Herman Melville

Alexandro Aranda

Ghostly Presence

We never meet Alexandro Aranda, who's long dead by the time Delano makes it aboard the boat. As the former owner of all of those slaves, we're guessing he wasn't the nicest guy of all time. But his ghostly presence sure is felt keenly by Benito Cereno.

When Delano asks Cereno about the dearly departed, he's so shaken up he can't even seem to form words: "Died of the fever. Oh, could I but—" (51.72). Whether or not Aranda was one of Cereno's good pals, or Cereno is just messed up because of his grisly death, we don't know. What we do know is that Aranda's body hangs from the figurehead as a reminder for the Spaniards to behave, or else.

That's a pretty powerful threat, if you ask us.

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