Olaudah Equiano Response Paper Essay, Research Paper
?The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself?
By Olaudah Equiano
The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, first published in 1789, is the first example of a slave narrative. Unlike most of the class, I took it upon myself to read the entire story of Equiano?s Travels, abridged and edited by Paul Edwards. In that version, as in the version represented in The Norton Anthology American Literature Shorter Fifth Edition, the journey of Olaudah Equiano is expressed in his own words, from his own point of view. That makes this writing a truly unique piece of literature. It is not only the first slave narrative but also one of the only ones written pre-civil war by a former slave, and someone seized from Africa. These facts give the writing a unique feel, for it is the words of a man that was born a free man, raised to be a ruler of his tribe, kidnapped and made into a slave as a young child, and then journeying through life to become once again free as a mature adult. Equiano experienced almost all parts of a slave?s existence. He was a slave throughout Africa, England, and the New World.
By reading the entire record of Olaudah Equiano?s travels I got a much more detailed view of his experiences. Thus to quote Equiano, ?I hope the reader will not think I have trespassed on his patience?,? if I briefly respond to the whole work of Olaudah?s autobiography, rather than the brief snippet presented in the anthology. The chapters, which really impressed me the most, were the first chapter, My Early Life in Eboe, and Chapter 11, Return to Europe. These chapters had the greatest effect on me based upon the fact that in the first chapter Olaudah is free, but it is the freedom of a child who doesn?t truly realize or appreciate the state in which he lives. Surrounded by the love and support of his family, and the knowledge that one day he will be a leader of his community. He lives in a world of respect and acceptance. This varies greatly from the situation in the 11th chapter Olaudah Equiano is once again free. However now he is a free adult living in a world filled with hatred and prejudice. Yet still he values his freedom. He now knows that it is better to live as a freeman in a world of hatred then as a slave in any world. His accounts of his life in these two chapters truly illustrate how his life was changed by his experiences as a slave.
Olaudah Equiano?s experiences, illustrated in his autobiography, show the life of a boy ripped from the life he was born to, brought into the world full of pain and humiliation called slavery, and then restored his freedom through his own intelligence and a little luck. He wrote a novel, which helped to show both the Europeans and the Americans the plight of slaves throughout the world. Plus he has gone down in history as the author of the first slave narrative. Thus I suppose in a way he achieved his destiny as a leader of his people, though instead of leading a single tribe he helped to lead thousands out from under the mantle of slavery.