The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano Deck (61):

When was The Interesting Narrative published?



When did the slave trade end in England?



What was Equiano's main objective in writing this work?

Trying to raise awareness of slave conditions and increase support for the abolitionist movement in England.


Through what method was this book published?

By subscription


Discuss the significance of the subscriber list to Equiano's publication.

The book was successful upon its initial publication, so the subscriber list for subsequent editions grew and grew over time as Equiano traveled to promote the book. It became a de facto petition to the Queen to end slavery.


What are three 18th century authors whose style influenced Equiano?

- Defoe (Adventure story/religious themes)

- Rowlandson (Captivity narrative)

- Franklin (rags to riches story)


What is the traditional structure of this work?

Conversion Narrative

(Mirrors the move from slavery to freedom)


What textual feature attests to some of the prejudices held at the time of publication?

Like Jacobs' "Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl," Equiano's text begins with several letters from prominent WHITE members of society attesting to his good standing and the truth of his narrative. They had to "prove" that they were competent and trustworthy, which a white author would not.


Who is Equiano's first master?

Michael Henry Pascal, a Navy captain. Equiano spends many years with him at sea. Equiano believes they have a good relationship, but Pascal double crosses him after Equiano tries to get his fair share of the spoils for participating in the Seven Years' War (French/Indian War).


When did Equiano purchase his freedom?

July 1766


What happens to Equiano's sister?

Though they are kidnapped together as children, they are soon separated. They see each other again while in Africa, but after that are parted forever.


Who does Doran sell Equiano to?

Robert King, the "benevolent" Quaker master


Who is Equiano's friend that first begins to teach him how to read?

Richard "Dick" Baker


What is Equiano's treatment in Savannah?

Very poor - the experience of slavery here is even worse than many other places. He is once severely beaten for visiting the house of a slave friend.


What is the European name Olaudah was given while a slave?

Gustavus Vassa

He initially protested this change, but accepted it after being beaten.


What religious denomination was particularly active in the cause of abolition, and to which Equiano later converted?



Discuss Equiano's cultural identity.

More than any Afro-British writer before him, Equiano's narrative insists on his British-ness. He is African AND British (cultural, political, religious, and social values).

Many authorities also doubt that Equiano was actually born in Africa - there is compelling evidence that he was born in South Carolina.


When did Equiano die?

1797 (so he did not live to see the Trade abolished)


What is Equiano's African nationality?



To who in his family is Equiano particularly close?

His mother


What are the four stages of the African slave trade (all of which are represented in The Interesting Narrative)?

1) the capture by native Africans, and the dangerous, exhausting journey to the European ships waiting at the coast;

2) the Middle Passage, in which slaves were transported across the Atlantic in the most hellish conditions imaginable;

3) the gradual introduction to a life of forced labor and a disease-ridden environment, after slaves arrive in the West Indies but before they are put to work;

4) and the actual period of enslavement.


Where does Pascal purchase Equiano?



Who were the primary combatants in the Seven Years' War?

Britain and America


What trope about reading appears in The Interesting Narrative?

The Talking Book


What are some typical abolitionist arguments Equiano uses in his work?

- Asking whether this practice really aligns with Christianity

- Slavery debases Masters as well as Slaves



What event first piques Equiano's interest in Christianity?

Snow, which Richard tells him is made by God in Heaven. After hearing this, Equiano begins to go to Church.


When does Equiano first become aware of his race?

When he is staying with a family with a little girl, Mary. He becomes "mortified" when he realizes that his face does not wash rosy like hers does.


Who are the Guerin sisters?

Two women introduced to Vassa by Pascal. They remain his supporters and friends even after Pascal betrays him.


What are some of the places Equiano sails?

- Gibralter
- Lyon
- Barcelona
- West Indies
- Greece
- Turkey


Who teaches Equiano both how to dress hair and the importance of reading the Bible?

Daniel Queen


Who is Equiano's cruel master?

Captain Doran


What is the punishment for killing a slave in Barbados?

A fine of 15 pounds stirling (ridiculously low)


Where is Montserrat?

West Indies


Who convinces King to hire Equiano out to him for naval adventure?

Captain Thomas Farmer


Who is Mrs. Davis?

A woman in Philadelphia who tells Equiano he wont be a slave for much longer.


Is life in the West Indies any better for Free Blacks?

Only marginally; they have to live in constant terror of being captured and forced into slavery (like Joseph Clipson), and they are constantly cheated by the law and the legal system.


What are some things the Miss Guerins help facilitate for Equiano?

- Baptism

- Learning to Read


What event seems to spark Equiano's belief in God's intervention in the world?

He sees a man fall from the mast without being injured. In this and similar instances, he begins to see God's guiding hand in everyday life.


To what literary work does Equiano frequently quote when discussing the situation of black people and slaves in the West Indies?

Milton, Paradise Lost


What is one way Equiano earned the money he would use towards his manumission?

He would do small-time trade in goods, buying a supply in one port and selling it for a profit at the next. This almost has disastrous consequences one time when white men steal his supply of fruit, and only by begging does he get it back.


Which people are the most fair when buying Equiano's goods?

The Quakers in Philadelphia


Which famous preacher does Equiano report seeing in Philadelphia?

George Whitfield


What is King's reaction when Equiano approaches him about possibly buying his freedom?

King is reluctant. Equiano must remind him of his offer to lend him part of the money to buy his manumission from years previous. King eventually does honor his earlier offer.


Who is Mr. Read?

The owner of a slave with whom Equiano has a disagreement in Savannah. Mr. Read later seeks to prosecute Equiano for injuring his property, and only through the captain's intervention does he avoid being beaten.

This incident is significant because it reinforces for Equiano with how little respect free blacks are treated in the U.S.


What two events in Equiano's life are most important to the formation of his identity?

His manumission and his religious conversion


Who is George Whitefield?

One of the founders of Methodism (hence why Henry Fielding kind of makes fun of him in Tom Jones!) and the evangelical movement.


What is the name of the country where Equiano resides with King?



Who is the Captain Equiano works for during and after his time with King?

Captain Farmer


What is the name of the doctor who helps Equiano a few times in Savannah?

Dr. Brady


What was Equiano's primary goal in writing The Interesting Narrative?

To paint a picture of the slave trade in all its brutality, and to thereby spur readers to encourage its abolition.


Of what feat at sea is Equiano especially proud?

He successfully gets the crew to safety after the ship hits some rocks in a storm. Others got drunk, or didn't want to take his advice - it is presented as truly Equiano's decisions, observations, and faith that make the preservation possible.


Where are Equiano and his crew ship wrecked?

An island in the Bahamas


After Equiano's visit to Georgia right after he has been shipwrecked, what is an important development in his religious life?

He serves as a clergyman for the first time, providing a burial service for a dead black child.

Unlike the white people, who despite being "Christians" would refuse this service, Equiano is acting like a true Christian.


After leaving Monteserrat and returning to London, what profession does Equiano take up?



What is the most disastrous expedition Equiano takes part in?

A journey to the North Pole (supposedly to find a passage to India; utterly failed)


What adventure spurs Equiano's deepening faith?

The failed expedition to the North Pole


Which chapter is the conversion chapter?

Chapter 10


Compare Equiano's two emancipations.

Though Equiano gains his manumission first, his conversion to Methodism is equally important, and foreshadowing constantly in the earlier parts of the work. Manumission made his body free, but Christianity freed his soul. Both are closely related with texts - manumission with the legal document and Christianity with the Bible. Both are different ways that he is "set at liberty."


Why does Equiano accept work as a plantation overseer? Why does he leave?

His old employer Dr. Irving is starting the plantation; Equiano believes he could convert a lot of people to Christianity in Jamaica.

He doesn't like living among "heathens" (natives).


What is a frequent problem for Equiano when he agrees to serve on ships?

The Captains originally say they are headed to one place before later revealing they are actually going somewhere else.


What happens to Dr. Irving?

He dies after eating a poisoned fish.