Social Isolation In The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

Social Isolation In The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

Length: 1282 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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 endeavors 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 and purity of intent; two qualities he finds sorely lacking in the Europeans. This compromise leaves him in a volatile 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 long 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 go to kill me" (755), he eventually begins to see Europeans as "men superior to us" (762). In this change of perceptive Equiano begins to endeavor to emulate his more pale counterparts. To further this cause, he begins to improve himself through education. He embarks on a quest 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 thus begins to take on the European religious character as well as the new Enlightenment ideal of self-improvement. During Equiano's service...

... middle of paper ...

...other leaving him somewhere between both.
Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative provides insight into cultural assimilation and the difficulties such assimilation. The writer embraces several Western traits and ideals yet guards his African virtues jealously. In doing so however, he finds himself somewhere in between a full European and a displaced African. This problem of cultural identity Equiano struggled with is still present in modern American society. The modern day African-American appears to also be in the process of deciding the between two competing cultures and often being left somewhere in middle becoming a victim of cultural identity just like Olaudah Equiano some 250 years ago.

Works Cited

Olaudah, Equiano. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Yassa, Written by Himself. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative

- Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative Olaudah Equiano, a native of the African province Eboe and author of The Interesting Narrative experienced the cruel and inhumane life of a slave. From the age of eleven, when he was kidnapped by slave traders, until he reached the age of 21 he was subjected to a lifestyle so harsh that he often saw death as an attractive alternative. Many of his countrymen, who existed in the same, if not a worse lifestyle, did in fact chose death to escape the brutally barbaric and torturous treatment that was the life of a slave....   [tags: American History The Interesting Narrative]

Strong Essays
1680 words (4.8 pages)

Tarzan of the Apes and Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

- The Primitive In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African When societies judge other cultures their judgments are often biased and ethnocentric. In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan, “the perfect specimen of white masculinity and testament to the viability of white civilization,[1]” projected many ideals and views of European society. Olaudah Equiano gave a first hand account of his life from his captive into slavery through his liberation in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African....   [tags: Sociology Essays Research Papers]

Free Essays
724 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about The Fascinating Life Interesting Life Of Olaudah Equiano

- Why practice a religion or claim to have some sort of moral standards and beliefs when yourself behavior contradicts your religion. There are numerous religions with many roles, some have similarities and many have their differences. What really matters is remaining loyal and devoted to your religion, by not using religion as a source for power and wealth; follow by the cruelty, mistreatment and injustice actions to other human. In this essay ill will analyze and demonstrate in how work exposes hypocrisy in institutionalized race relations by using supportive information from the following text "The interesting life interesting life of Olaudah Equiano"....   [tags: Slavery, History of slavery, Atlantic slave trade]

Strong Essays
2001 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on Olaudah Equiano And Phillis Wheatley

- To some, tricksters may only be thought of as weak figures from Native American or African American tales who are seeking an objective and find creative ways to outsmart their opponents. However, there are many accounts of people in American literature that can be compared to tricksters. Olaudah Equiano and Phillis Wheatley are two of these people. Both Equiano and Wheatley use their creative abilities in an effort to accomplish a unified goal: abolishment of slavery. In The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavas Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, Olaudah Equiano emulates a trickster because he is disadvantaged in comparison to his foes (slave owners), but end...   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Slavery]

Strong Essays
1577 words (4.5 pages)

Olaudah Equiano 's A Great Influence On The Abolitionist Movement Essay

- Rough Draft Olaudah Equiano was an individual who overcame a lot of adversity and his writings influenced the perception of African Americans in England forever. He was taken from his home in Africa by slavers when he was young and separated from his family. However, he eventually bought his freedom and moved to England to affect the abolitionist movement there. Even though he had a rough start to his life, Olaudah Equiano rose above the hardships to had a great influence on the abolitionist movement and shed a light on the injustices of the slave trade....   [tags: Atlantic slave trade, Slavery, Africa]

Strong Essays
1024 words (2.9 pages)

Olaudah Equiano 's Exemplification Of The Evils Of Slavery Essay

- Olaudah Equiano’s Exemplification of the Evils of Slavery In his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano describes his early life in Africa and the shattering effects of the slave trade. From growing up and learning to be a man under the watchful and loving eye of his mother, to being torn from his family and home and being forced to travel throughout Africa before ultimately finding himself aboard a slave ship headed for America, He gives readers a unique view of life as an African during the 1700s....   [tags: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Africa]

Strong Essays
1146 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Olaudah Equiano

- An ironsmith, ship steward, crewman, cook, clerk, navigator, amateur scientist, and even a hairdresser. These are all jobs that Olaudah Equiano held during his lifetime. He has been called the "most influential African writer in both Africa, America and Britain before the Civil War", and was born in Essaka, Nigeria sometime during 1745 (O'Neale, 153). His family was part of the Ibo tribe, which was located in the North Ika Ibo region of Essaka. In his earliest years, Olaudah Equiano was trained in the art of war....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Strong Essays
1218 words (3.5 pages)

Assimilation of Blacks in Song of Solomon, Push and Life of Olaudah Equiano

- Assimilation of Blacks in Song of Solomon, Push and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano      Our African American texts call for close examination of the status of slaves and subsequent generations of free Blacks, how they fit into American society, and their quest for and denial of the benefits of Americanism. So does one assimilate or resist. But The Melting Pot Theory is not inclusive of Blacks since the process of assimilation could not work its magic on black skin.   In the slave narrative, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, the capture of Africans, their ultimate enslavement in the Americas, the West Indi...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Strong Essays
1912 words (5.5 pages)

Women In Slavery in Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative

- The notion of slavery, as unpleasant as it is, must nonetheless be examined to understand the hardships that were caused in the lives of enslaved African-Americans. Without a doubt, conditions that the slaves lived under could be easily described as intolerable and inhumane. As painful as the slave's treatment by the masters was, it proved to be more unbearable for the women who were enslaved. Why did the women suffer a grimmer fate as slaves. The answer lies in the readings, Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative which both imply that sexual abuse, jealous mistresses', and loss of children caused the female slaves to endure a more d...   [tags: Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano]

Strong Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauda Equiano Essay

- The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauda Equiano The narrative by Olaudah Equiano gives an interesting perspective of slavery both within and outside of Africa in the eighteenth century. From these writings we can gain insight into the religion and customs of an African culture. We can also see how developed the system of trade was within Africa, and worldwide by this time. Finally, we hear an insider's view on being enslaved, how slaves were treated in Africa, and what the treatment of African slaves was like at the hands of the Europeans....   [tags: Slave Narratives Olauda Equiano]

Strong Essays
860 words (2.5 pages)