Incidents In The Life Of Olaudah Equiano And Gustavus Vassa

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The two slave narratives Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself provide two different perspectives on the institution of slavery. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl depicts a female perspective of slavery in the 1850s while The Interesting Narrative of the Life... provides a male perspective from almost a hundred years before. Although written at different times from different perspectives, both works illustrate the tragic reality of American slavery. As a key component of American culture, both Equiano and Jacobs are exposed to the Christian faith. However, Harriet Jacobs uses her religion to recognize the hypocrisy of white…show more content…
Written by Himself, Olaudah Equiano has never heard of Christianity until he experiences snow for the first time. After his master tells him that God made the snow, Equiano is confused by the concept of Christianity and attempts to learn more about this 'foreign ' religion. Unintentionally, Olaudah is able to point out the hypocrisy of the white church in his first encounter with it. As he compares the church to African paganism, Equiano points out, "And from what I could understand by him of this God, and in seeing these white people did not sell one another as we did, I was much pleased; and in this I thought they were much happier than we Africans" (136). Already indoctrinated by white supremacy, Equiano sees that white people did not sell each other into slavery, but fails to recognize that they do participate in the selling and purchasing of Africans. Essentially, Equiano is blinded from seeing the unethical nature of the slave trade by his own internalized…show more content…
Harriet sees her white master as anything but holy, while Olaudah describes how he looks up to white people "as men superior to us" (136). Equiano adopts Christianity simply because of his desire to assimilate as much as he can as an African man. When servants tell him that he cannot go to Heaven without being baptized, Olaudah immediately asks his master 's wife if he can be baptized (137). Equiano 's process of becoming a Christian begs the question: Is he a Christian because his beliefs align with the faith, or is he a Christian because his beliefs align with whatever his white counterpart 's beliefs align with? Because of his recognition of the value of Christianity in his white superior 's eyes, the latter seems more plausible. Harriet sees the religious illusion crafted by the white community, while Olaudah falls victim to it. Both Harriet Jacobs and Olaudah Equiano point out the illusions of white Christianity in from their own unique perspective. Jacobs uses her faith to recognize those illusions, while Equiano falls victim to them. However, both illustrate the deceitful reality of white supremacy to their audience and thusly advocate for the abolition of
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