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Reversing the Master and Slave Role in Benito Cereno

Reversing the Master and Slave Role in Benito Cereno

White men held within an inch of death or even more tortuous fates at the hands of black slave-mutineers, kept alive solely to navigate the blacks to freedom–is this concept something so preposterous that it isn’t conceivable? It depends upon whose eyes the insurrection is viewed through.

In “Benito Cereno,” Captain Delano’s extreme naivete and desensitization towards slavery greatly affect his perceptions while aboard the San Dominick. Delano’s racial stereotypes, views of master and slave relationships, and benevolent racism mask the true reality of what was occurring on board despite his constant uneasiness and skepticism. At a time when slave revolts were not unusual, the slave conditions aboard the San Dominick should have made more of an impact on Delano.

Upon first boarding the mysterious ship, Delano gave but a brief thought to the fact that the many blacks roamed freely under the control of very few Spaniards, a number which was so small, we later learn, because of scurvy, or so he was told. The ominous black men performing the task of polishing axes that they would make sound at opportune times, never were more than a passing observance. Also, the fact that there were so many of the slaves, all in relatively good health, not lacking anything but water, never provoked Delano to analyze further. Despite the fact that the San Dominick was not specifically a slave ship, but only a ship transporting one man’s slaves, on the average slave ship the

conditions aboard ship were dreadful. The maximum number of slaves was jammed into the hull, chained to forestall revolts or suicides by drowning. Food, ventilation, light, and sanitatio…

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…ns it held. Melville creates a character who never sees the reality on board the ship in his many speculations, particularly because Delano sees the slaves as too ignorant as to be able to devise such a thing, when the grand irony is the he is too blind to see it. Melville reverses the master and slave roles and brings them before a very slavery-conscious audience to whom he leaves the interpretation open, but laden with subtle messages about the horrible institution of slavery.

Works Cited

Bennett, Lerone. “Black Resistance… Slavery in the U.S.”. Before the Mayflower. 25 Sept. 97.

Melville, Herman. “Benito Cereno.” The Piazza Tales. Northwestern University Press. 1996.

“The African Slave Trade.” Slavery. 18 Sept. 97.

Effect of Media Violence on Children

Effect of Media Violence on Children

The children of today are surrounded by technology and entertainment that is full of violence. It is estimated that the average child watches from three to five hours of television a day! Listening to music is also a time consuming pastime among children. With all of that exposure, one might pose the question, “How can seeing so much violence on television and video games and hearing about violence in in music affect a child’s behavior?” Obviously these media have a big influence on childrens’ behavior: we can see it in the way they attempt to emulate their favorite rock stars by dressing in a similar style and the way children play games, imitating their favorite cartoon personalities or super heroes. Studies have shown that extensive television viewing may be associated with, “aggressive behavior, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity, and the use of drugs or alcohol.” Television, video games, and music are very influential and if their is too much violence available for children to watch, play, or listen to, this can sway their attitudes in a negative direction.


Music is a big part of children’s lives, especially as the children become older and enter adolescence. We can see how influential rock stars are just by looking at the children of today: they dress and sometimes try to act just like their idols. Music can be very powerful and there have been numerous stories in the news of teenagers trying to commit suicide or committing crimes and then blaming it on song lyrics. Perhaps the music itself is not such an influential agent, but the artists are and if they are behaving in an unbecoming manner, many kids will try and be like them. For example, rapp…

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…ose video games and programs that enhance their children’s learning. As you can see, each of these media has a strong influence on the lives and behavior of children, but whether that influence is good or bad is up to the artist, television star, or program writer.


In conclusion, television, music, and video games are all things that are fun and sometimes educational for kids. However, these media can be a bad influence on children, depending on the content. Children are extremely impressionable and if they are exposed to violent television, music or video games then they will start to emulate that show, artist or song, or video game with their behavior. These are all so powerful that they should be used to teach children how to problem solve and help them expand their minds, not show them how to kill someone or teach them other violent behavior.

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