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Responses to Mary Prince/Equiano questions

1)     I see a large distinction between Prince and Equiano’s plight; Prince seems to have it harder than Equiano does, or at least is able to express this more. Equiano is able to buy his freedom, Prince is repeatedly refused this option. Also, Equiano is literate and educated, while Prince is not. This impacts the emotional state of Prince because she is unable to tell her story the way she would like to (limited by her lack of education)—Prince’s narrative has to edited to “exclude redundancies and gross grammatical errors” “so as to render it clearly intelligible” (14/1090), but Equiano’s is clearly “written by himself.” Prince is treated like a pet, and is walked by the hand, and call[ed] [a] little nigger” (37/1090) by her master. Equiano is ultimately able to buy his freedom and called a “Captain” at one point by his peers. Equiano’s freedom gives him the confidence and security that Prince never seems to obtain.

2)     After reading Prince’s narrative, it almost seems like there is no regard for gender or gender-specific limitations. For instance, Prince sees a woman who is pregnant being beaten close-to-death and hanging from a tree. There seems to be no regard for child bearing or any maternal considerations. Salt working is open to both genders and all ages “whether they [are] young or old.” Additionally, Mary’s domestic jobs are gender specific she is working in the house.  I also found it interesting that Prince’s master did not like the idea of her getting married. It was almost as if marriage is some kind of control that the master feels is taken away from him—a male-female dominance dynamic. Also, it is telling that Prince’s story has to be told by a man, when Equiano writes his own.

3)     The body is simply a tool and a commodity in Prince’s narrative. When the tool is broken or not working (when Prince is very sick), there are serious problems for Prince. She must continue working her body as much as she can, even if it begs for rest. Similarly, when the woman is pregnant, she is still beaten despite her bodily limitations and the baby inside of her. The body is just a tool and a commodity, not something to be nurtured or cared for. The master owns this commodity and can use it however he would like. Mary prince is sold “like sheep or cattle” and her body is handled “in the same manner that a butcher would a calf or lamb.”

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