I just began "The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings" of Equiano and am finding it very "interesting." i first looked at his wiki page and got the x4 (>>>>) version of his life. this gave me an idea of what i had to look forward to in the book. Mainly I understood that this book was going to be big on the abolition of slavery. The book is more than that, it is a modest perspective on the lives of a people taken captive into a hard world of pain and suffering. Equiano provides a look at the communities that were destroyed by consumerism and colonization. Matt



One part of Equiano’s Narrative that I found interesting was the scene in which the ship captain renames him Gustavus Vassa.  "While I was on board this ship, my captain and master named me Gustavus Vassa. I at that time began to understand him a little, and refused to be called so, and told him as well as I could that I would be called Jacob; but he said I should not, and still called me Gustavus: and when I refused to answer to my new name, which I at first did, it gained me many a cuff; so at length I submitted, and by which I have been known ever since".


I think this naming nicely demonstrates Equiano’s struggle for self-empowerment from outside exertions of control.  He strongly attempts to reject his new name and the identity it comes along with.  In being renamed by his master Equiano was losing a sense of his identity.  But it is interesting that Equiano later accepts this name he had so previously protested, further highlighting the issues of identity Equiano and all displaced Africans faced.




Samantha Luceri



In Equiano we see a continuation of the same theme we have been discussing this semester.  The hero becomes successful because he adapts the customs of the white men.  He is treated kindly in many of his slavery situations and finally gains her freedom.  The most important custom he learns is the language.  English helps him assimilate to his masters and tell his story.  We are only reading his story because of this development.  His language and story was also important at the time to telling people in England his story and about slavery in the West Indies. 





I've read Equiano before (thanks, Paul) and I still find the controversy over the accuracy of his origin story very interesting.  Some (certainly not all) critics claim that Equiano fabricated some of his origin account by combining his own ideas with already-published slave narratives and accounts.  This raises two important questions about Equiano: 1) Can we trust him as an author?  Given the emotional integrity of his story, the details he provides, and the strength of his writing style, I don't think I can possibly distrust him.  Equiano as a figure - as a writer, a former slave, and an abolitionist - transcends any kind of petty assertion that he just might not have been telling the whole truth.  The other question I'd ask is: If Equiano flat-out made up some of his Narrative, does that make his novel any less important?  I honestly don't think that it would impact the way I read the book if the novel turned out to be less-than-accurate.  The tale of the man's struggle for freedom in The Interesting Narrative is powerful and gripping no matter who wrote it and why, and the fact that (I believe) it was completely true makes it that much more powerful.




I'm glad to be re-reading this book for a second time because I've read "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" somewhere in between.  It's interesting--although I'm not sure of the implications, so I don't want to comment too heavily--how both narratives begin with a slave who, learning to read, gains his "freedom" through words, acquires a different type of freedom from his master, then becomes a part of the growing US economy.  Even more interesting is how each slave used the Bible to his advantage, claiming to learn from IT the secrets that would allow them to finally become free.  Worth discussing maybe, if anyone else has read Douglass...  But I also remember reading an article some time ago about Equiano fabricating his Atlantic journey, something we actually did not discuss the last time I took this class.  The link follows....







“But, above all, what advantages do not a refined people possess over those who are rude and uncultivated?  Let polished and haughty European recollect that his ancestors were once, like the Africans, uncivilized, and even barbarous.  Did Nature make them inferior to their sons?  And should they too have been made slaves?  Every rational mind answers, No.” p.45

             I think that it is odd that Equiano calls the people of his culture barbarous and uncivilized, when, after reading of the structure of family life and community life, it seems that African culture is not that far separated from so called “civilized” culture.  It is also only after accepting European thought that he looks back on the life he once lived as less that civilized.  I think that it is through this acceptance of the European mentality that his viewpoint of his former life changes.  As Erica stated, through assimilation, Equiano is able to appeal to the white community as though he has been transformed from “heathen” to “upstanding citizen”.  Just as Orientalism creates torque image of people through the eyes of those who describe them, Equiano seems to look back on his life as an African as strange, distant, and mysterious; the traditions of a foreign culture that he is slowly forgetting.


Evan Gallagher 



I think that Equiano is an interesting hero because he adopts the idea that if you cant beat um' join um'.  Most of the other characters we encountered in our readings actively try to rebel against the white men as a whole and break free from slavery with force.  Though I think some would debate over which course of action is more honorable, Equinano was clearly a very clever man.  I found myself wondering while I was reading it if Equiano was as humble and unassuming in his thoughts and life as he portrays himself and what his motivations were for writting this book.  He certainly does make white men seem beastly seeminly without intending to, maybe that ws his objective all along.  No matter what he was certainly very impressive and florished in adversity.  His writing style is extremly eleqent and he shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that his wit is comprable to any other white europe could produce.