Babo’s assistant in the slave rebellion is a tall, imposing man who was previously a tribal leader in Africa (Babo calls him a “king” and Cereno a “chief’). In Captain Delano’s presence, Atufal walks around in chains, an elaborate performance to convince Delano that he is harmless. Delano is told that Atufal has committed an unacceptable deed and must periodically ask forgiveness to Cereno, which the slave refuses to do. This convinces Delano that Atufal has a dignified character and that Cereno must be a cruel slave-master. What Delano ignores is that Atufal is not a helpless victim, but a powerful actor strategically positioned to help Babo in case of trouble. Not much is known about Atufal’s actual personality. Proving just as pragmatic and indifferent to violence as Babo, he takes part in daily meetings with Babo to organize the slaves’ return to Africa and to debate whether they should murder all the Spaniards on board. Like Babo, Atufal never kills anyone himself, preferring to adopt a leadership role. He is killed in the recapture of the San Dominick by Delano’s crew.
Atufal Character Timeline in Benito Cereno
The timeline below shows where the character Atufal appears in Benito Cereno. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...pursue the San Dominick in fast waters. In the meantime, various people are killed, including Atufal and two Spanish sailors who looked as though they were allied with the black slaves.... (full context)
...sailors on board to handle the ship’s navigation. Cereno talked to Babo, the ringleader, and Atufal, his assistant, asking them to put an end to violence and assuring them that he... (full context)
...island of Santa Maria, which was uninhabited. In the meantime, after daily strategic discussions with Atufal, Babo announced that they would kill Alexandro Aranda as a safety measure, in order to... (full context)
...notes that Babo ordered an inscription to be placed beneath the figure-head and that, although Atufal and Babo were in charge, they never killed anyone themselves. He also notes that, throughout... (full context)