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Prince & Equiano Questions

(1) What distinctions do you see between Prince’s plight and Equiano’s?  What are the consequences of these distinctions on the emotional or physical state of Prince?

 

            Prince’s narrative suggests that her plight was wrought with more physical abuse and suffering. She tells about frequent abuse against herself as well as others. She tells how she was further “chastised for not being able to move so fast” as her master wished, as a result of being over worked and abused (Prince, 16). Equiano even mentions early in his narrative that when he compares his experience with that of many others in slavery he “[regards himself] as a particular favorite of Heaven” (Equiano, 31). However, while Prince’s suffering seemed to be more physical, it appears Equiano’s manifested itself in a more psychological way. He is overcome by feelings of being inferior, and it seems as if that scar never truly healed. Through out his narrative, we see him attempting to do everything in his power to appear more “whitewashed” and equal to white Europeans. Prince often finds herself distressed at the cruelty of other human beings, and her hopes for a better life are repeatedly raised only to be dashed again, “going from one butcher to another” (Prince, 10).

 

 

 

 

 

(2) How might we consider the issue of gender with regard to slavery? What jobs are open to all genders?  What jobs are deeply gendered in performance?

 

The gender divides in slavery mirror the gender divides traditionally in place between men and women only minimally. Typically, chores of childcare or housework fell into the hands of women, which is mirrored in how masters employed women in affairs of the house. However, the physical labor of tending fields and plantations fell upon the shoulders of all slaves. Similarly, there seems to be no distinction between violence against male or female slaves. Both sexes receive beatings of equal severity and frequency.

 

(3) We have spent a great deal of time discussing the body in Equiano, how does the body figure into Prince’s tale? How is the body conceived of by the individual and/or the master and how does this differ from the ways the body functions in Equiano’s tale?

 

Prince describes the treatment of the body as one similar to, if not the same, as animals. She refers to her masters as butchers and describes the slave markets as similar to cattle and livestock trading. To the masters, there is nothing human about the body of a slave, whereas for Equiano, the slave body is seen as something different, something “othered”, which he tries to overcome by making himself as Europeanized as possible upon gaining his freedom.

 

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