Benito Cereno

by

Herman Melville

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The Hatchet-Polishers (Ashantee Men) Character Analysis

Like the oakum-pickers, this group of men from Ashantee (a kingdom in Western Africa) is positioned on a deck slightly higher than the rest of the crowd. Captain Delano immediately finds them eerie and threatening. He calls them “conjurors” or “wizards” because of their imposing presence. Although he believes that these men are only polishing hatchets, Babo has actually placed them in a strategic position so that they can distribute arms to the black slaves in case violence erupts. As Benito Cereno’s testimony reveals, members of this group prove cruel, playing an important part in killing Alexandro Aranda and cleaning his skeleton.
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The Hatchet-Polishers (Ashantee Men) Character Timeline in Benito Cereno

The timeline below shows where the character The Hatchet-Polishers (Ashantee Men) appears in Benito Cereno. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Benito Cereno
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...ropes to re-use the loose fibers. He also notices six slaves (whom Delano calls “ Ashantee conjurors ”) polishing hatchets. Delano notes that these men’s attitude is typical of blacks, who always... (full context)
Violence and Slavery Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
Delano interrogates Cereno about the role of the oakum pickers and the hatchet-polishers, but Cereno answers with vague mutterings. When Delano asks Cereno who owns the slaves, Don... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...of his thoughts, Delano notices that the old black slaves whom he calls the “ wizards of Ashantee ” strike their hatchets, which contributes to the overall eerie atmosphere. (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Morality vs. Self-Righteousness Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
...This causes all the black slaves to stand still for a few seconds, shocked. The hatchet-polishers suddenly rise, Cereno gives out a cry and Delano immediately thinks that he is going... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Violence and Slavery Theme Icon
Leadership and Authority Theme Icon
...begged him not to do so, since Aranda was his childhood friend, Babo ordered two Ashantee men to murder Aranda with hatchets. Babo stopped them from throwing the half-conscious body in the... (full context)