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Politics Politics

The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings of Olaudah Equiano has thus far seemed not as terrifying an account of slavery as some others I have read.  I do question the author’s validity in regards to his account, as he was involved in the British movement for the abolition of the slave trade.  Early on Olaudah’s description of the white slave owners makes them seem agreeable or likeable whereas the people who sold him into slavery (who are black) are the picture of absolute savagery.

I would imagine as someone advocating for the abolition of slavery that one would want to depict one’s captors or slave owners as kind Christian folk in order for them to be keen on abolishing slavery.  Olaudah perhaps is more concerned with politicking than providing an actual account of his experiences.

Olaudah is also obsessed with providing to what I would imagine be a largely white readership, a description of his Christendom.  He is constantly proving that he is indeed a Christian; that God saved him and gave witness to a many experiences of divine intervention. It’s as if Olaudah is saying:  “if you are a good christian, you will abolish slavery”.  Olaudah is again providing his readership with examples of his whiteness.  Olaudah is relentlessly offering evidence of how seamlessly he fits into the cultural majority, that he is not other, that he is no different that anyone else.  I would go as far as to say he makes him self otherworldly in that he gives so many accounts as to how God saves him, it is a little overwhelming.

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4 thoughts on “Politics Politics

  1. I agree, this slave narrative is definitely “whitened” for a particular audience. I found it interesting that the captors weren’t painted as bad as those in other slave narratives that I read. When Obadiah accidentally kills one of his master’s chickens, he fears he will be in trouble. Instead, the master is forgiving and understanding. That is completely different than some of the narratives I have read in the past. The text is definitely very religious. I tried to understand the purpose of all of Obadiah’s emphasis on this throughout the novel.

  2. In regards to Christianity, I was curious at how willingly Equiano was to adopting this religion for his own. I never saw a glimpse of resistance. Equiano first learned about Christianity and instantly began to practice it. I thought that showed a weakness and submissive character. I do understand that this most likely gave Equiano glimpses of hope in desperate times, I just expected him to be a little more reluctant to give up his culture.

  3. He definitely writes to impress a white audience, first and foremost with his mastery of English as a secondary language. His eloquent prose earns him credibility among white readers who might otherwise see him as just an ignorant slave.
    I agree that the authenticity of his story is questionable. If he is lying or “stretching” the story at times though, I think it is a pretty good rhetorical technique for his intended audience.

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