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Where’s the fight?

Olaudah Equiano’s narrative on his personal life and struggles was very mind-boggling, yet in a way gratifying. I found myself feeling his emotions the best way I could possibly, considering I have never been through so much cruelty. Equiano is a very humbling character, especially in Chapter 1 when he talks about his background and the way he grew up—“we are all of a nation of dancers, musicians and poets”—which explains a society similar to our own. However, the natives present a very simple lifestyle—“as we live in a country where nature is prodigal of her favours, our wants are few and easily supplied”—where pleasures are seen through a much smaller perspective and the little things are considered the most valued. I really attached with the native culture. They are all very simple and friendly and through his story, I would never consider a slave any lesser of a person. It is unexplainable to me how they were just stolen into slavery because of color and lack of weaponry to argue.

 

I found it even more interesting in Chapter 4 when the European men became more of an idol instead of a stranger to Equiano. This was confusing to me because I feel if I were in his situation I would be filled with hatred and anger. Equiano develops this insane feeling that white people are better and obviously superior which makes no sense. It’s almost like people in his culture are so amiable that they accept people no matter what the circumstances. I was not sure whether to read this from a slave’s perspective or if another European was just speaking highly of other Europeans and it got misinterpreted. It seems like it would make much more sense for some sort of resistance to completely leaving his simple society and moving into a place where all of his freedoms are denied but he just doesn’t seem to care.

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One thought on “Where’s the fight?

  1. Lauren,
    I’m really interested in the moment when the white traders become men: “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).
    So i’m reading this in two ways: first the word superior stands out as revealing the subordinate position of the slave.
    BUT second: the notion of transferring the traders from SPIRITS to MEN seems really interesting to me. E’s representations of African culture establish that spirits are powerful and to be feared/respected/loved. MEN however are human by their nature — fallible, mortal, weaker than spirits.Also they can then be “resembled”. This could either mean that E wants to change himself to become like the “superior white man” (scare quotes intended), but i wonder if it could also represent the desire to “resemble” rather than become. Can one resemble in language is the next thought I have and this makes me think of Chase’s blog post on rhetoric: https://engl3164.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/equianos-rhetoric/

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