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Kelsey's Question

Much of Benito Cereno is centered around race and the division between black and white. Why, then, are we introduced to so much gray at the beginning of the story ("everything gray," "surface like waved lead," "the sky seemed a gray surtout," "gray fowl," "gray vapors," etc. on p. 2405, and the word is not used again after p. 2430)? Does Melville mean to establish a certain mood, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc?