This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Equiano's Individuality

As Equiano told his story, he faced several hurdles and things he had never encountered; he managed to come out of his situation learning as much as he could from it. Though there are several prevalent themes throughout this narrative, and many that could be discussed, what I found to be most interesting is how we see Equiano "come of age". While he writes about his specific hurdles, triumphs, tragedies, and feelings, we as the reader begin to see something else: the struggle for individuality. It seems as though through this time, Equiano is facing what could be his biggest struggle: discovering himself.
Equiano aims to please, yet he doesn't want to be taken advantage of either. He speaks of the desire to please quite frequently, writing passages such as, "I had the good fortune to please my master in every department in which he employed me..."(439). Even when he is freed, he desires to please all he comes in contact with, but is also quick to defend himself if needed. It seems as though he is working out who he wants to be in this aspect.
Another struggle he seems to have is whether he is an Englishman or and African. At the beginning of the narrative, he eludes to the thought that he is an African, remarking that, "I was now persuaded I had gotten into a world of bad spirits and that they [white men] were going to kill me"(423). He obviously believes, at this point at least, that the white men are not superior at all to his African decent. Throughout the narrative, he makes comments about how if he was an Englishman, that he would think his struggles were more difficult, for example in his introduction he says " is true the incidents of it are numerous and, did I consider myself an European, I might say my sufferings were great..."(407). However, as he begins to investigate this new culture and world he finds himself in, he begins to submit to it. He becomes a Christian, almost ignoring the ancient traditions of his homeland. He also begins to admire the men he once did not understand. On page 432 he writes "I not only felt myself quite easy with these new countrymen, but relished their society and manners. I no longer looked at them as spirits, but as men superior to us; and therefore I had the strong desire to resemble them...". It seems that Equiano is dealing with quite an identity crisis at times. I am sure this is something many slaves must have felt- who did they belong to?
As the narrative continues and comes to a close, I feel as though Equiano has a better understanding of who he is. He turns into quite an observer. His last paragraph states that "almost every event of my life made an impression on my mind and influenced my conduct..."(469). It seems that Equiano has grown into who he is, like we all do, and he is thankful for every experience and thought and question he might have had about his character, because, as he acknowledges, it brought him to where he is comfortable with himself.


Blogger Danielle Bruhl said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Equiano's struggle for individuality. I believe this was good part of the narrative on which to focus. You did well in terms of close reading. You stated your observations and then backed them up with passages from various parts of the text. You highlighted the various aspects of Equiano's identity with which he wrestled during his experience as a slave and a free man and tied this struggle to what others at that time most surely felt. I think this was well written and well supported.

9:08 AM  

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