Response to “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”
Olaudah Equiano in his Interesting Narrative is taken from his African home and thrown into a Western world completely foreign to him. Equiano is a slave for a total of ten years and begins to take on certain traits and customs of Western thinking. He takes great pains to improve himself, learn religion, and adopt Western mercantilism. However, Equiano holds on to a great deal of his African heritage.
Throughout the narrative, the author keeps his African innocence; a quality he finds lacking in the Europeans. This compromise leaves him in a middle ground between his adapted West and his native Africa. Olaudah Equiano takes on Western ideals while keeping several of his African values; this makes him a man associated with two cultures but a member of neither.
Olaudah Equiano during his journey is exposed to Western ideas and customs. Although he is initially frightened by them, writing “and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me,” he eventually begins to see Europeans as “men superior to us.” In this change of perception, Equiano begins to emulate his European counterparts. To help his cause, he begins to improve himself through education. He begins to learn to read and write, having already partially learned his adopted tongue some two to three years after he arrives in England. He is put into school by Miss Guerins while his master’s ship is in port and while in her service Equiano is taught Western Christianity and baptized. He begins to take on the European religious character as well as the new idea of self-improvement.
During Equiano’s service to Mr. King, he hears of Mrs. Davis. When first considering her talent, Equiano writes: “I put little faith in this story at first, as I could not conceive that any mortal could foresee the future disposals of Providence, nor did I believe in any...