Don Benito Cereno is a strange fellow: he is the sea-captain of a rather battered-looking ship called San Dominick. He seems to slide in and out of a feverish state, unable to control his crew, telling an unlikely story to another captain, sunny and trustworthy and utterly optimistic, Mr. Amasa Delano.
What started like a normal day for Delano, turns out to be a great adventure (also inspired by real events). The almost wrecked ship carrying black slaves packs more than one story and definitely not the one Don Benito Cereno wants us to believe.
Herman Melville (he is the master behind this gem of literature) takes us on a perfectly crafted mystery short-story, tension arising from the first paragraphs and leading to pure anxiety as the truth unravels. We will not take away from you the pleasure of discovering yourself what is the real story behind Cereno’s words and most certainly what is going on with his dutiful assistant, a certain clever black man called Babo.
Our advice: follow closely the racial remarks in the story and you will get thus to another layer in Melville’s story, centred on a controversy among scholars on whether or not this story is racial in nature.