Study Guide

Benito Cereno Weakness

By Herman Melville


"Benito Cereno" may be a powerful little story, but Benito Cereno himself is weak-sauce. In other words, he relies totally on others to help him out, especially his beloved Babo. Even though Delano sees the remnants of a strong man in Cereno, the fact is that Cereno has been stripped of all his power. We'll never know totally what he was like before the slave rebellion, but it kind of seems like he was always a little dependent on Babo and the rest of the slaves.Ā 

Questions About Weakness

  1. What reasoning does Delano have for thinking Cereno was once a strong man?
  2. Babo's pretty clever, but does he have any weaknesses?
  3. Besides illness, what makes Cereno so weak? For instance,which of his personal qualities make him a weak man?

Chew on This

Delano identifies with Cereno's weaknesses, and wants to believe that he'll eventually gain strength.

Cereno's weakness isn't totally feigned, but he often uses it as a survival strategy.

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