Equiano

Equiano’s narrative started out as an extremely devastating account of his life, however by the end he was able to turn it into an encouraging and inspirational story representing himself and his culture.  Equiano’s life narrative combines several different genres, which was something that I found very interesting.  Those genres were; a captivity narrative, a spiritual autobiography, a travel memoir, an adventure story, and an abolitionist tract.  The early chapters of the narrative describe the healthy, cheerful lives of Africans that the Europeans ripped away.  There is a stark contrast between their African culture and community and the European inhumanity.

An English naval officer brought Equiano to sea to serve as a cabin boy and renamed him Gustavus Vassa.  At sea, he got a basic education and underwent a baptism.  This was unfair for the slaves to experience, because typically baptism was a ritual that many slaves had believed would make them free.  Sadly, this was not the case for them and they continued to experience terrible things.  They were treated awfully as slaves.  After several years Equiano was sold and shipped to the West Indies, where a Quaker merchant purchased him.  The Quaker merchant named Robert King employed him as a clerk and a seaman, and promised him that he could eventually buy his own freedom.

Equiano’s story is extremely inspiring and encouraging.  In 1766, he was finally able to buy his freedom.  Equiano emotionally recounts how he felt at this point in his life.  The hardships that he overcame led him to finally become a free man and finally be his own person.  The later chapters of the narrative show what he was able to achieve when he was finally given a chance, and treated as a real human.  Equiano taught many that Africans can and should be able to stand up for themselves in their lives.  Equiano’s publication of his narrative made a very important contribution to the abolitionist movement.  His narrative made “explicit arguments against the slave trade,and demonstrated that an African could be humane, intelligent, a good Christian, and a free and eloquent British subject” (981).

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