Some people believe that Benito Cereno is a racist work, showing Africans to be brutal savages, while others argue that the novel is really an indictment of the evil institution of slavery, which is fully responsible for the horrific violence the book recounts. Explain which of these two views you think holds more validity and why, supporting your views with specific examples/quotes from the novel. Much of the book’s appeal lies in Melville’s use of a naïve narrator and of a surprise twist—what role do these techniques play in your interpretation of the novel’s racial message? What about Don Benito’s early death in the monastery? Finally, to what extent is your interpretation of the novel’s racial message the result of your being a twenty-first century reader? Did Melville’s original audience respond differently?