Anticipation Stage and
Let's be up-front here, Shmoopers. "Benito Cereno" is all about
overcoming a monster, but that monster isn't really a distinct person. It's
more about the monstrous part of humanity, creeping closer to Captain Delano in
the shape of the San Dominick.
Although Delano is perfectly happy on the Bachelor's Delight, he's compelled to
investigate the evil presence on the San
Dominick. We'd say that even though there's no real, live,
fire-breathing monster, he's experiencing a pretty clear call to action.
At first, Captain Delano seems oddly immune to the sense of
human evil that saturates the San
Dominick. We might even say he endorses the evil: the only
things he notices amiss are when the slaves seem to be out of place, and he
offers to buy Babo from Benito Cereno. Slowly, Captain Delano comes to realize
that all is not well aboard the ship.
Finally, Captain Delano confronts that nagging feeling that
something is up. Tellingly, this happens in a conversation with himself
(remember how we said he's got a little bit of the monster in him?). Captain
Delano tries to escape the clutches of the San
Dominick, but Benito Cereno keeps clinging to him. First, he
won't let go of his hand. Then, he jumps in the boat with him and tries to
escape. Too bad the San
Dominick isn't something you can escape from.
After Benito Cereno jumps in the little boat with Captain
Delano, all seems to be lost. Babo is out for blood, although Captain Delano
doesn't get at first that he's trying to stab Benito Cereno. The San Dominick and
the Bachelor's Delight
engage in a fierce battle, with the former slaves up against
Captain Delano's crew. Again, this is a place where "Overcoming the
Monster" seems to come up short. No matter which crew wins, the monster is
The Thrilling Escape
from Death, and the Death of the Monster
At first, Benito Cereno seems to be totally thrilled that
he's evaded death. The Bachelor's
Delight wins the battle, and Babo is put on trial with the rest
of the slaves. But when Babo is put to death for his crimes, Benito Cereno
quickly follows suit. The two are closely linked: the only way the monster will
truly die is with the two of them.