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Interesting Equiano Passages

Upon reading Olaudah Equiano’s narrative, I found a couple of specific passages that caught my attention and gave me a good idea of what his experiences were like, as well as his perceptions of his situation. The first passage is seen very early in Chapter 1 when Equiano remarks “did I consider myself an European, I might say my sufferings were great; but, when I compare my lot with that of most of my countrymen, I regard myself as a particular favourite of Heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of providence in every occurence of my life.”(31). I was very surprised because Equiano is basically saying that for all the hardships he encountered, it was considerably mild compared to the treatment of other African slaves during this time. This both shocked and disgusted me because his treatment alone seemed horrible and I do not want to imagine the treatments of the individuals that he had in mind.

The other passage that I found intriguing was much later in the narrative in Chapter 4. When discussing the European men, Equiano says “I no longer looked upon them as spirits, but as men superior to us; and therefore I had the stronger desire to resemble them”(78). Call me crazy, but if I was forced into slavery by a group of people, the last thing I would want to do is act like them in any way. Not only does Equiano truely believe that these men are superior than him, but it seems as though he also believes they are better than him. This is very telling about the times. It seems like many of the Africans knew their place as lessers. I was surprised that there was not more resistance to this, but this may also reflect on their belief that they were inferior and resistance would be useless.

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One thought on “Interesting Equiano Passages

  1. One thing you might consider is whether Equiano (or the author) is bargaining with white Europeans in order to bring an end to slavery Ya, he’s admitting that Europeans are superior to him, but is there possibly an ulterior motive? After all, the author’s audience would have been white Europeans. By appealing to them, he may have gained a foothold of sympathy from readers and peacefully ended slavery without even needing to put up a resistance.

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