Equiano (post in place of class)

I was excited to read about Equiano buying his freedom. It was interesting that his master didn’t think Equiano could meet his objective as fast as he did—the master almost wanted to retract his offer at that point! I notice a major theme of Equiano being underestimated throughout this whole narrative. Particularly, his unheard voice when the vessel collapses. He initially inhabits a role of power after the captain died—he obtains “a new appellation, and [is] called Captain” by the shipmates (1843/3263). This is “quite flattering to [his] vanity” and has “as high a title as any free man” (1843/3263). However, his power and control is quickly thwarted when the vessel is in danger and nearing a large rock. His unheard protests (the captain “[does] not appear” despite his constant warnings (1877/3263)) are a symbol of the slave/subordinate identity that haunts Equiano, even after he is freed. I found the contrast of the prideful Equiano, labeled “Captain” by his peers, with the panicked/unheard Equiano that is ignored by the captain to be quite telling of the struggle to really find “freedom” as a recently freed slave. The slave identity seems to be hard to entangle—this could also be seen in his two names. He is freed by a different name than his birth name: he has two distinct identities, a slave and a free man, that are entangled with one another. This entanglement is seen by how Equiano identifies himself in the cover page (I forgot the technical name for it, we talked about it in class J). He is not one, but both of these people. This ship scene really highlights that. I also found it interesting how Equiano takes on the weight of all the lives around him during the panicked ship scene. He thinks “[his] sin [is] the cause of this, and that God [will] charge [him] with these people’s blood” (1895/3263). This almost paints a Jesus-like crucifixion image for me.


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