The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

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The novel The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano exists as an extremely important work in the abolitionist movement in England. As an 18th century narrative written by a former black slave the novel provides a glimpse into the lives of the African slaves involved in the slave trade as well as the slave traders themselves. Even with the controversy over the authenticity of Equiano’s claims on his origin in Africa and his subsequent voyage through the Middle Passage, this novel serves as a powerfully instructive piece of literature. Throughout the novel Equiano strives to impress upon the reader a certain set of moral standards or ideals that he desires to instruct the reader about. One such moral ideal that is prevalent…show more content…
Equiano therefore develops in his novel, the claim that if his white companions and his audience are “true” Christians, they could not help but to see that the treatment of many African slaves contradicts Christian morals and disregards African slaves as humans with worth and value as individuals. In conjunction with challenging the moral character of his audience and white companions to develop his argument for the human worth, instead of simply monetary value, of the African slaves, Equiano strives to accentuate his own Christianity. From the onset of the novel, Equiano relates his native religion to Judaism, which was the foundation for Christianity. Equiano wants the audience to know that Africans may not be as “civilized” as the European world, but that does not mean they are sub-human. By using his native religion as a comparison to Judaism, and ultimately the foundations of Christianity, Equiano is developing an argument for being seen as an equal to his white Christian audience, at least in the eyes of God. This religious equality is therefore used as a springboard for Equiano to argue for the value and worth of the African slaves as humans and not property. This idea is furthered by Equiano’s baptism in the early section of
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