Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Nicholas Warner

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This thesis examines race in the works of Herman Melville. To do so, it analyzes the racial attitudes of white characters in Moby Dick and “Benito Cereno” and their relationships with people of color. The first chapter focuses on Ishmael and Captain Ahab in Moby Dick and explains why those two are motivated to shed traditional racist attitudes. The second chapter concerns the other white characters in Moby Dick who hold to racist beliefs in order to maintain social power. The third chapter uses “Benito Cereno” to show how racist attitudes held by Captain Delano and Benito Cereno blind them from reality and put their lives and social power at risk. In total, this thesis explores how the use and rejection of racism by Melville’s white characters comprise a tension between exclusion and inclusion that typifies America’s racial past and present.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.