Olouadah Equiano Essay

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Olouadah Equiano Keith Sandiford, author of Measuring the Moment, eloquently made the claim for Equiano's Interesting Narrative as a reliable documentary source. Sandiford writes, "Throughout the narrative, [Equiano] makes a conscious effort to delineate the principal incidents and experiences of his life as faithful memory would allow and to appraise his conduct with honest judgement and sober reflection" (119). To me this is how Equiano embarks on making his narrative credible: "I believe it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity. . . People generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read or remembered which abound in great striking events, those, in short, which in a high…show more content…
Yet he knows, too, that merely preaching of goodwill towards Africans would not turn any heads. He must show directly the irony that those naming others "barbarians" were the barbaric ones themselves. His intensely personal story, with detailed descriptions of what he saw - cruel or ordinary - and of how one African dealt with forced encounters with different lands and cultures, was what it would take for Englishmen to relate and thus to understand. A number of themes pervade Equiano's narrative. Editor Robert Allison says the text revolves around "freedom and salvation." Adam Potkay in Forum: Teaching Equiano's Interesting Narrative, claims that Equiano's narrative had a number of persuasive modes, modes such as "apologia, allegory, sermon, exhortation..." and [criticism] directed to abolishing the slave trade (604). Power and identity struggles are also important problems Equiano faces. Some of the most telling passages involve Equiano's discussion of his various names. In his Ibo native land, he was named "Olaudah," which signified "one favored, and having a loud voice and well spoken." His name was thus symbolic of his strong anti-slavery voice. His name testified to his extraordinary life and also suggests his relative fortune, or perhaps God's Providence. Luck and grace would play a large role in his life and narrative. Yet in Virginia Equiano was called Jacob and then Michael - he no longer had control over his own identity. The passage

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