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

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Narrative...and so much more

When I first saw that we were reading Equiano's Interesting Narrative, I assumed that this story would be similar to all the other stories we have read, even though I knew some of the history behind this particular one. However, I was wrong; Equiano wrote a narrative that millions of African Americans can relate to and a narrative that thousands of people sympathize with. Nevertheless, what amazed me most was Equiano’s attitude throughout his whole ordeal…he realized how lucky he was to have kind masters and to obtain his freedom. Equiano’s life was different from most slaves in that he obtained his freedom, but he could also read and write. His life was also different in that he made an impact on the slavery movement that is still felt today; his narrative opened up the door for other African Americans to get their stories out as well.
Throughout his narrative, he is very aware of his audience, and this is very apparent. He goes into detail about much of his life, including his home in Africa, to help the readers better understand what he has been through. At the beginning, he addresses the reader, and begins forming the image that he wants to portray of himself. “…but when I compare my lot with that of most of my countrymen, I regard myself as a particular favorite of heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of Providence in every occurrence of my life.” Equiano wants to make sure that his reader remembers that although this story is about his life, overall is about his dislike for the treatment of slaves. One thing I found very different about this narrative was that Equiano never advances the complete abolition of slavery—he simply discusses how horrible slaves are treated. He knows that if he had supported the abolition of slavery, many people would never have listened to him. In addition, I believe that Equiano did not mind some forms of slavery; he even discusses how slaves were in his home country of Africa. Equiano goes into detail describing some of the horrible things that have happened to slaves in some of this places he has been. “It was very common in several of the islands, particularly in St. Kitts, for the slaves to be branded with the initial letters of their master’s name; and a load of heavy iron hooks hung about their necks. Indeed on the most trifling occasions they were loaded with chains; and often instruments of torture were added.” I at first began to feel sorry for Equiano and the many things he went through, but that did not compare to the sorrow I felt for the slaves who had the typical life. I believe that Equiano did not want pity for himself—he wanted pity for other slaves. One of the passages I find most compelling is toward the end when Equiano describes John Annis, who is a cook on the Anglicanai, but is taken back by his old master. Equiano goes through great difficulty to help him, but is unsuccessful. “I also was told of it by some very respectable families now in London, who saw him in St. Kitts, in the same state, in which he remained till kind death released him out of the hands of his tyrants.” I believe this truly shows how powerless African Americans were, even if they had their freedom. Equiano just wanted to show that African Americans were humans, not savages, and that they deserved to be treated just like everyone else.

Stephanie Bosarge


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home