..."you were with me all day; stood with me, sat with me, talked with me, looked at me, ate with me, drank with me; and yet, your last act was to clutch for a villain, not only an innocent man, but the most pitiable of all men. To such degree may malign machinations and deceptions impose. So far may even the best men err, in judging the conduct of one with the recesses of whose condition he is not acquainted. But you were forced to it; and you were in time undeceived. Would that, in both respects, it was so ever, and with all men."
"I think I understand you; you generalize, Don Benito; and mournfully enough. But the past is passed; why moralize upon it? Forget it. See, yon bright sun has forgotten it all, and the blue sea, and the blue sky; these have turned over new leaves."
"Because they have no memory," he dejectedly replied; "because they are not human."
"But these mild trades that now fan your cheek, Don Benito, do they not come with a human-like healing to you? Warm friends, steadfast friends are the trades."
"With their steadfastness they but waft me to my tomb, Senor," was the foreboding response.
"You are saved, Don Benito," cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; "you are saved; what has cast such a shadow upon you?"
"The Negro."

This dialogue contains "Benito Cereno"'s most explicit commentary on the question of slavery. Cereno's haunting claim that "the Negro" is a "shadow" upon him raises many questions as to what the perception of Black people is within the story. Cereno now sees that Black people cannot be underestimated, and that all his life he has been underestimating them. Both he and Delano have now seen a very intelligent Black slave, Babo, in action. Babo succeeded in controlling Cereno and fooling Delano. At the end if the story, the narrator leaves it ambiguous whether, when Cereno dies, which "leader" he is following—his friend Alexandro Aranda, or Babo, who exerted such control over him. It is also unclear whether the shadow really represents the fundamentally corrupt institution of slavery itself. Perhaps Melville is saying that Cereno deserves this ending.