Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Life of Oludah Equiano - 2 Reflections

1. In the introductory chapter, Equiano mentions his father, and also the culture within his country while he was growing up. Equiano’s father was a part of the Embrenché – which was a set of chief men who decided the punishments for people who committed crimes. He listed a few examples of what type of punishments would be given, such as adultery and kidnappings. Then he went on to write about the culture within the country. He talks about the African culture is heavily influenced on dancing, music, and poetry, but also writes about how the living style is very plain and simple. Agriculture was the main employment, and everyone did something to contribute to it. They believed in one Creator, and though there weren’t any places to worship, there were still priests around for worship. He goes on writing about how he shipped from Africa with his sister, but it was not long until he was separated from her. Equiano writes about the kind of masters he was sold to, and I couldn’t believe what kinds of punishments slave owners acted upon their slaves. In his narrative, Equiano tends to steer towards a more logical stance for his audience is more the abolitionists acquired in the legal fields. I think Equiano’s writing had more of an informational style to it; it seemed to have logic mixed with a little emotion. I think it was amazing to read that Equiano did not stay within North America during his time as slave. He was shipped from Africa, but each time he was sold to a new slave owner, it could have been in somewhere in the south, or in a different country in Central America. It is also really interesting to read about the friendships that were created between the slaves and the slave owners’ children. Reading about Equiano’s friend, Dick, was an inspiring story. It was fascinating to see how much Equiano thought of Dick as a friend, and as a person of a different race. He thought of Dick to be his “best interpreter”, and he could be “free with him”. I think it’s inspiring that as children, slaves could befriend the children of their masters and be open and create a close friendship with one another. The thing that I feel like I get most out of reading these slave narratives is that the writings are so personal to the authors, and as a reader, I feel like I should be the one doing something about this horrible time. I’ve never read a slave narrative before, so I never really knew what to expect from it – other than the idea that it would be the slave’s story. However, I feel as though it is so much more than just a story. It’s an emotional, informational piece of writing that makes you feel guilty for what the slaves went through, and during the time of slavery, it made readers want to put an end to such a terrible event.

2. Society can be heavily influenced on religion. Separation of Church and state, in my mind, may still exist today. The laws created by the government aren’t the laws that the Church agrees with. When Equiano came to consensus that he couldn’t rely on the human laws, he made the decision to turn to God for help because he knew that God would always give him the answer. His religion plays out a lot throughout his narratives because of the time that he lived in. Equiano wants to convict society for being discriminatory and harsh. He sees God as the overseer over all people – that when a person does something bad, God will know because he knows all. As much as Equiano is an Evangelical Christian, he is conflicted between two different sides of Christianity. God is being used in different ways by different groups of people, but Equiano knows that his audience will consist of abolitionists that are Christian and will agree with him. Society is also heavily influenced on race. The idea of the system is a horrible creation, yet society is the one who created it in the beginning. Though the system was destroyed, it not only affected the slaves, but it destroyed all humanity including owners, too. This system affects all, and is most likely the reason for Equiano’s reliance on God and Christianity. I thought it was interesting for Equiano to reference religion and God so much within his narrative. His audience would have most likely been Christian and abolitionists, so to plant several religious aspects allows his audience to feel the emotion through a Christian viewpoint, and take a side with him. I always thought that slavery was a horrible time. For me, as someone who is a Christian, I can understand how Equiano trying to persuade his audience through religion could work. Humans created this system of slavery, and humans could only end it too. Seeing as the state was the ones that were creating this horrible time, the Church was the thing that could defend slavery as something immorally wrong. Equiano was a strong believer in Christianity, and that was what he turned to every time the state would defeat him and shoot him down. 

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