Slave Narratives, By Harriet E. Wilson And The Fascinating Narrative Life Of Olaudah Equiano

1173 Words Jun 16th, 2015 5 Pages
Often, African American Literature is imagined as if it was unitary, describing a single experience that all African Americans understand or live in the same way. This is particularly true when the literature in question concerns the period of African American slavery in the United States. Often, the experience of slavery is imagined as always occurring in the same way, with the same experience. However the “slave narrative” as a genre is tremendously diverse, supporting a variety of perspectives and experiences that often have little in common other than the experience of slavery. In fact, even this experience varies greatly from one narrative to another. Two slave narratives which highlight this fact are Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson and The Interesting Narrative Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano. These two narratives demonstrate the ways that the perspectives in slave narratives can differ tremendously. A comparison of these two narratives highlights the diversity of perspectives at play in the genre of slave narratives, and demonstrates the multiplicity of sometimes divergent voices present in a historical group that has often been silenced.
The first glaring difference between The Interesting Life and Our Nig is the tremendous disparity in writing styles. The Interesting Life is written in the first person, and Olaudah Equiano muses extensively on the paradoxes inherent in writing an autobiographical account. He emphasizes that although some inaccuracy is…
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