Study Guide

Atufal in Benito Cereno

By Herman Melville


Strong in Silence

Atufal isn't a man of many words. Scratch that—any words. Even as Babo is desperately trying to impress Captain Delano with his trustworthiness as a slave, Atufal is content to remain in chains… and in silence.

Rather than answering Cereno, he lets his arms "lifeless fall, his links clanking, his head bowed; as much to say, "No, I am content" (52.82). Why isn't Atufal playing along with the charade? We're guessing that he's been forced into choices for a long time, and he's finally standing strong.

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