The Voice of Babo, the Slave in Herman Melville's "Benito Cerano"

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The Voice of Babo, the Slave, in Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” A mere shadow to the entire story, the character of Babo in Herman Melville’s novella, “Benito Cereno”, is quite significant for having lead and maneuvered an uprising of slaves onboard the Spanish ship San Dominick. While the main character of the story is Captain Benito Cereno, a first-class merchantman voyaging from Buenos Aires to Lima, every other characters, notably Babo and the slaves, are voiceless entities whose images are fashioned according to Captain Delano’s impressions. Kevin Hayes notes the conspicuous absence of Babo’s narrative perspective as he explains: The story is never related from Babo’s perspective. Being omniscient, the narrator could have articulated Babo’s viewpoint, too-but he could not have done so and maintained the story’s dramatic tensions. Arguably, Babo is the tale’s original teller: he is the one who instigated the uprising that provides the story’s drama. He is the one who created the fiction that duped Captain Delano while aboard the San Dominick. Moreover, he, the Black, is the one history has silenced. (81) By reshuffling the narrative structure Melville designed for his novella, this paper will examine how such a shift affects other elements of the narrative, including plot, characters and theme. It will therefore bring Babo to the foreground. Instead of Captain Delano’s point of view, this paper seeks to find the voice of Babo, giving him the chance to tell his story and that of his fellow Blacks who perished during the slave trade, one of the darkest events in human history. Since a focal point of the story is slavery as perceived in the 18th century, it is logical that an enslaved person represent their hardships, suffering, sentiments and overall mentality. By “un-silencing” Babo, Melville’s “Benito Cereno” becomes an engaging,

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