"What are you knotting there, my man?"
"The knot," was the brief reply without looking up.
"So it seems, but what is it for?"
"For someone else to undo," muttered the old man, plying his fingers harder than ever,
the knot being now completed. (Melville "Benito Cereno" 66)
This passage is referring to the "knot" that is slavery, in which we have been trying to undo for centuries. Has it been undone? Have we finally untied the knot of slavery? It's pretty obvious by reading these novels and short stories that the answer is no.
In Herman Melville?s short story ?Benito Cereno,? (which was written in 1855) there are numerous scenes to show Melville?s view on slavery. One is the scene with the knot, (the passage shown above) where Melville is saying that slavery is an impossible problem to solve, and most likely never will be solved unless some sort of bold, unexpected action takes place. This idea is very similar to the myth about Alexander the Great, and the Gordian Knot. The myth says that an oracle told everyone that whoever could untie this knot would rule all of Asia. After many people tried to untie it and all of them fail...
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...to a shed and beat him until his face was unidentifiable and then shot him in the head. They wrapped a fan around his neck using barbed wire and tossed him in Tallahatchie River near Glendora, Mississippi. This happened in 1955, the same year Sugar ``Ray'' Robinson won the world boxing championship over Carl ``Bobo'' Olson. The same year that Rosa Parks refused to move on the bus, and the same year that Jackie Robinson helped lead his Brooklyn Dodgers to a World Series win. There were many positive movements in 1955 for blacks, but the murder of Emmett Till made us realized how far away we were, and still are from getting rid of racism.
The knot of slavery, and racism will never be completely untied. It is something we will always have to live with and we have to remember the past, and try to move on from it no matter how cruel, harsh, and wrong it may have been.
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