"The interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano"

  • Fachrichtung:Literatur 
  • Studienfach:Buchanalyse
  • Thema:
    The interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • Art der Arbeit:Essay
  • Seitenzahl:1
  • Einzigartigkeit:98.1%

The interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Youth and slavery

According to the autobiography, Equiano was born in the Esaca region near the Niger River, which is currently populated by the Igbo nationality. His father was an influential elder in the village and helped to solve local disputes. While his parents were not at home, his relatives kidnapped him and sold him to domestic slavery in a neighboring village. Until then, he had not met white people. According to the memories of Equiano,[1] he was resold several times before he crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He was reluctantly bought, because of his low growth, but at the same time strong people were needed to work on sugar plating.

After his arrival in America he was sent to Virginia, where he was bought by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant of the British Royal Navy. Among slavers there was a common custom of giving new names to slaves. Pascal decided to give the new slave the name Gustav Vaza – a Latinized form of the name of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa. This time, however, Equiano declined and said he preferred the name Jacob. Pascal punished him and declared, that Equiano would remain chained until he accepted the new name. According to the memories of Equiano, he remained chained for a long time, but eventually agreed to take a new name. The reasons for choosing such an unusual name for a slave were unclear; probably earlier Pascal served on a ship called “Gustav Vasa” and felt special to this name. However, the most famous ship named “Vaza” drowned in 1628, just one mile from the port, where it came out for the first time and was unable to participate in the Thirty Years’ War, where the British and Swedes were allies. So, most likely, the name was given by a joke.[2]

In his autobiography, Equiano wrote that the treatment of slaves, who worked in the slave-trade houses in Virginia, was extremely cruel and included such unusual forms of punishment as an iron middler, which was putting on the face of a slave in order so he could hardly speak or eat. He described his new impressions, especially the fear of what he saw, for example, it seemed to him that the eyes of people in pictures look at him, wherever he went, and the watch on the fireplace told the owner about all his mistakes.

[1]              Gutenberg Project, 2005. Olaudah Equiano The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.

[2]              Simon Shama Rough Crossings, 2006. Britain, the slaves and the American Revolution. Harper Collins, pp. 161–162.

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