Class Treatment and the Grim Reality of “Freedom” for Equiano


One recurring thing that keeps happening or is observed by Equiano is just how much lower in class he experienced first hand when compared to whites. He has seen people beaten, their whole worth stolen (including his own), basically get his goods stolen from trading due to his color, and then when he tries to track the man down, upon his returning he gets beaten and nearly flogged by some of the white townsfolk Not much later on he is nearly beaten to death by a doctor who knew his captain well. Such oppressive nature is something I personally would find intolerable and found myself astounded at reading just for how long he was able to put up with this before procuring his freedom. Even after, being a free man on his first voyage, a confrontation with a slave caused him to lose his temper and beat him. The resulting affair had the master calling him out to receive a punishment. This was the final tipping point for him seemingly, as he says “determined to resist the first man that should offer to lay violent hands on me, or basely use me without a trial; for I would sooner die like a free man, than suffer myself to be scourged by the hands of ruffians, and my blood drawn like a slave” (104). For Equiano, he now gets too see first hand the reality of being a “free” man at the time, where because of his color, he is never really free. In his dealings with Mr. Reed, Equiano still had to hide for days to avoid his wrath, and this really cut into his workload. However, his obtained wealth was able to eventually get him out of the situation. Seemingly, Equiano’s close relationship to god was what really got him through the tough times through many instances in the novel.


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