The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) Character Analysis

The narrator and protagonist of the book, Equiano was born in modern-day Nigeria, where he was kidnapped at the age of eleven before being transported to the coast and sold into slavery. He was brought on the “middle passage” from Africa to the West Indies, and then to Virginia where he was bought by an officer with whom he participated in a number of sea voyages, as well as the French and Indian wars. Eventually he earns enough money to purchase his own freedom, Both before and after his attainment of freedom, though he depicts how even after attaining his freedom he is often belittled, betrayed, and otherwise put in danger by white men. Over the course of the book, the character of Equiano that emerges from these pages is one of a curious, bright, and determined person. He picks up English relatively easily and, despite a halting and often interrupted education, he learns to read and write well enough to compose hundreds of pages of a narrative of his life. Equiano is thoughtful, sometimes painfully so. He takes what he learns to heart, and he is unable to simply parrot the teachings of Christianity, for instance, without fully grappling with their implications for his own life. Equiano’s relationship to England is also complex. He expresses both nostalgia for his home country, and a burgeoning desire to be like Englishmen, even though they are often cruel to him. By the end of the book Equiano strongly advocates for the end of slavery. Yet even as he agitates for the end of the slave trade, Equiano doesn’t want to cut off all ties to the culture that he’s adopted; instead, he argues for the ability of black people and former slaves to fully participate in British life and culture.

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) Quotes in The Life of Olaudah Equiano

The The Life of Olaudah Equiano quotes below are all either spoken by Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) or refer to Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Life of Olaudah Equiano published in 2000.
Chapter 9 Quotes

Montserrat, 26th of the Seventh Month, 1767.
The bearer hereof, GUSTAVUS VASSA, was my slave for upwards of three years, during which he has always behaved himself well, and discharged his duty with honest and assiduity.
ROBERT KING.
To all whom this may concern.

Related Characters: Mr. Robert King (speaker), Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa)
Related Symbols: Certificate of Good Behavior
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Life of Olaudah Equiano quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 10 Quotes

In this deep consternation the Lord was pleased to break in upon my soul with his bright beams of heavenly light; and in an instant, as it were, removing the veil, and letting light into a dark place.

Related Characters: Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 11 Quotes

At last he asked me, --“How comes it that all the white men on board, who can read and write, observe the sun and know all things, yet swear, lie, and get drunk, only excepting yourself?”

Related Characters: The Musquito Prince George (speaker), Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa)
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Thus I hung, without any crime committed, and without judge or jury, merely because I was a freeman, and could not, by the law, get any redress from a white person in those parts of the world.

Related Characters: Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (speaker), Hughes
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem iLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

I now learned that after I had left the estate which I managed for this gentleman on the Musquito shore, during which the slaves were well fed and comfortable, a white overseer had supplied my place: this man, through inhumanity and ill-judged avarice, beat and cut the poor slaves most unmercifully; and the consequence was, that every one got into a large Puriogua canoe, and endeavored to escape; but, not knowing where to go, or how to manage the canoe, they were all drowned; in consequence of white the Doctor’s plantation was left uncultivated, and he was now returning to Jamaica to purchase more slaves and stock it again.

Related Characters: Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (speaker), Dr. Charles Irving
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 12 Quotes

I hope to have the satisfaction of seeing the renovation of liberty and justice, resting on the British government, to vindicate the honour of our common nature. These are concerns which do not, perhaps, belong to any particular office: but to speak more seriously, to every man of sentiment actions like these are the just and sure foundation of future fame; a reversion, though remote, is coveted by some noble minds as a substantial good. It is upon these grounds that I hope and expect the attention of gentlemen in power.

Related Characters: Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (speaker)
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulLorem Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore e

Population, the bowels, and surface of Africa, abound in valuable and useful returns; the hidden treasures of centuries will be brought to light and into circulation. Industry, enterprise, and mining, will have their full scope, proportionably as they civilize. In a word, it lays open an endless field of commerce to the British manufacturers and merchant adventurers. The manufacturing interest and the general interests are synonymous. The Abolition of slavery would be in reality an universal good.

Related Characters: Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) (speaker)
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire The Life of Olaudah Equiano LitChart as a printable PDF.
The life of olaudah equiano.pdf.medium

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) Character Timeline in The Life of Olaudah Equiano

The timeline below shows where the character Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa) appears in The Life of Olaudah Equiano. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Dedication
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Olaudah Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vassa, dedicates his book to the Lords of Parliament in England,... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano states his hope that the fact that someone like him is speaking for such a... (full context)
Preface
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
...address in government would have done. Many other people, though, tried to cast doubt on Equiano’s character, arguing that he was born in the West Indies, not in Africa. (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
The preface also notes that some people objected to Equiano’s Calvinist religion, and others argued that his opinions should be discounted because, as an African,... (full context)
Chapter 1
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Equiano acknowledges the difficulty of escaping the charge of vanity for writing a memoir, a genre... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano describes the kingdoms of Africa in Guinea, where the slave trade takes place. Within the... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
...slavery or death: one time the judges were about to sentence a woman to death, Equiano recalls, but she was spared because she had an infant child. Usually marriages were arranged... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
...objects of war. Money was mostly unnecessary, though there were coins, and also markets, where Equiano often went with his mother. Slaves—who were usually prisoners of war or else convicted criminals—were... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano describes the rich, bountiful land with its corn, pineapples, spices, and honey: agriculture was the... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
...gain prisoners or goods, and it was a common means of obtaining slaves in Africa. Equiano describes the guns and swords used in such battles. Once he climbed a tree to... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano’s village believed in one creator of the universe, who lives in the sun and smokes... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano compares the villagers’ customs of circumcision and naming children for some event, past or foretold,... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Concluding his sketch, Equiano suggests that there is a great analogy between his own country’s customs and those of... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano adds that he’ll leave the question of the different skin color between Eboan Africans and... (full context)
Chapter 2
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano asks to be excused for laying out in such detail the customs of his native... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
One day, though, while Equiano was home with his sister, two men and a woman snuck into their home and... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
After many days, Equiano changed masters and was delivered to a chieftain with two wives, who spoke his same... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
One day, however, while Equiano was helping an elderly female slave to take care of the chickens, he tossed a... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
After the master’s daughter died, the master went mad, and Equiano was sold again, carried again for many days through many woods and deserts. As he... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano, too, was sold again, this time brought to a beautiful, fertile town called Tinmah. He... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Equiano then came to a land that, for the first time, had far different customs than... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Upon arriving, the first thing Equiano noticed was the sea holding a slave ship, waiting for cargo. He was handled by... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Upon awakening, Equiano asked some of the black people now gathered around him if they were going to... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano was moved under the decks, where noxious smells assaulted him and made him too sick... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano found some people from his own country, who explained to him that they were being... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
On deck one day, Equiano saw another ship nearby, and he was convinced it was stopped by magic. The white... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
This voyage was also Equiano’s first experience of flying fishes, as well as of the quadrant, which astonished him, persuading... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...from their native countries. They were led to the merchant’s yard and enclosed like sheep. Equiano marveled at the multi-story brick homes and people on horseback. (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
After several days came the market sale. Family and friends were separated cruelly. Equiano marvels that these so-called Christians failed so immensely at the golden rule of treating one’s... (full context)
Chapter 3
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano stayed several weeks on the island before being shipped off for North America. In Virginia,... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Then, Equiano says, God smiled on him. One day the captain of a merchant ship, Michael Henry... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Pascal named EquianoGustavus Vassa.” While Equiano said he’d prefer to be called Jacob, Pascal refused, and Equiano... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
One young boy aboard—Richard Baker, an American who’d gotten a good education—was kind to Equiano and they became inseparable. Baker had slaves himself, but he grew close to Equiano and... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
One night a man was lost overboard, and, amid the cries, Equiano again feared he’d be killed. The next day they saw large fishes, grampuses, which Equiano... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...reached Falmouth, where the captain got provisions for a feast. It was spring 1757 and Equiano was nearly twelve: he found the pavement and buildings in Falmouth remarkable, as well as... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Equiano went to church, though he failed to understand what it meant. Dick began to instruct... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Pascal and Equiano lodged at a gentleman’s house where there was a daughter, about the age of seven,... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Several months later Pascal sent for Equiano and Dick and they sailed to England. At first Equiano was amazed by the quantity... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano arrived in London to lodge with a relative of Pascal and his two amiable sisters,... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Pascal was appointed a lieutenant on board the Royal George, so Equiano joined him, but they left behind Dick, whom he was never to see again. Equiano... (full context)
Chapter 4
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Equiano was now accustomed to his new life, especially given the kind treatment by Pascal, which... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
The Miss Guerins told Equiano that he could only go to Heaven if he were baptized, which made him uneasy,... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano accompanied the Miss Guerins all throughout London, though sometimes he stayed by Westminster Bridge with... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Soon the ship Namur was again ready to go to sea, and Equiano was sorry to leave his schoolmaster and the sisters, who had taught him to read... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Meanwhile the ship Preston came to Gibraltar from the Levant, and Pascal told Equiano he might see Dick again. But Equiano learned from the Preston’s crew that his companion... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
They continued up the Mediterranean to Barcelona, which proved charming to Equiano. They then went to Toulon to intercept a fleet of French battleships and there was... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
After the battles, Pascal and Equiano moved from their ship to another, the Aetna fire-ship, where Equiano was well-treated and had... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
During this time, Equiano began to see everything marvelous or extraordinary as proof of Providence. John Mondle, a rather... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
This anecdote reminds Equiano of another, at Plymouth in 1758 when, one night, a woman nursing a child fell... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...the arrival of more French ships. Their own lieutenant was killed in the ensuing battle. Equiano was ordered ashore to acquire the materials necessary for a siege, so he witnessed the... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano’s crew besieged the citadel until it surrendered in June and they took the island. Equiano... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
While still aboard, a sailor named Daniel Queen grew attached to Equiano. Queen taught Equiano to shave and to dress hair, and he explained Bible passages to... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In December the ship arrived in London. As it sailed into port, Pascal suddenly forced Equiano into a barge, saying he had to prevent Equiano from escaping. Stunned, Equiano asked if... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Pascal took away Equiano’s coat, leaving him with only the nine guineas – a type of coin – he’d... (full context)
Chapter 5
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano wondered if this, a new slavery, might be God’s punishment for his sins. He recalled... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
While the ship was anchored at Portsmouth, Equiano tried any way he could to make his way back to shore; once he even... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In February they arrived in Montserrat, where Equiano grew horrified at the sight of this land of slavery, which reminded him of his... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
One day Doran sent for Equiano, who arrived to find Doran along with a Quaker merchant, Mr. Robert King. Doran said... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...of ships transporting rum, sugar, and other goods between the West Indies and Philadelphia. Because Equiano was well-trained as a seaman, he was given 10-15 pence per day to live on.... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano knew a countryman here who was so frugal and saved so much money that he... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Mr. King, though, often tried to intercede and prevent slaves from being whipped. Once Equiano was let out to work on a ship, whose captain refused to feed him: Mr.... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano often witnessed cruelties committed against slaves in the West Indies, as well as on board... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
One man told Equiano that he had sold 41,000 negroes and had once cut off a slave’s leg for... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano adds that he did know more benevolent slave owners in the West Indies who kept... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
In Montserrat Equiano knew a black man who managed to escape by hiding aboard a ship bound for... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano relates that exhausted field slaves would try to steal a few moments of rest while... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano quotes an act of the Assembly of Barbados, stating that if a black person, having... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano also relates an account, told to him by an abolitionist, of a French planter the... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Once, a Creole man, who worked as a servant in Montserrat, told Equiano that his sole leisure was to go fishing, but that his employer always took the... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano argues that cruel treatment was not confined to a few places, but was common across... (full context)
Chapter 6
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano could never list all the examples of oppression and cruelty that he witnessed in the... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Towards the end of 1763 Providence was again kind to Equiano. One of King’s ships was captained by an Englishman Thomas Farmer, whose sailors tended to... (full context)
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano decided to try his luck in commerce, beginning with the three-pence that was all he... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Once, in Santa Cruz, Equiano and another black man both went ashore to try to sell their fruits when they... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
At St. Kitt’s, Farmer lent Equiano some money to buy a Bible, which he’d been without since being forced out of... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano’s mind was continually, at this time, plagued by the thoughts of freedom, and by the... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Several times during this period, Equiano, who never learned to swim, was close to being drowned. Equiano began to wish fervently... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano also saw examples of free men he knew in America being deprived of their liberty... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano was determined to gain his freedom and return to England. He decided it would be... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
In Guadeloupe, they encountered a merchant ship desperate for sailors to go to France. Though Equiano thought he might be able to get to Europe that way, he decided that “honesty... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
In late 1764 King bought a large ship, the Prudence, and Farmer and Equiano carried a load of slaves to Georgia and Charles Town. Although white men tried to... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In early 1765, Equiano began to prepare the ship for a voyage to Philadelphia, working hard in the hopes... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano felt overwhelmed with gratitude. The ship set sail for Philadelphia. Upon arrival Equiano was easily... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...ship went to Montserrat, taking slaves on board for St. Eustatia and then Georgia. Overworked, Equiano caught fever in Georgia and came close to dying: he prayed for God to spare... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...left Montserrat again laden with slaves and arrived at Charles Town, where white men bought Equiano’s goods but failed to pay a fair price. One man in particular refused to pay... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
The ship continued to Georgia. One evening, Equiano was sitting in a yard with some slaves when their master, a cruel man named... (full context)
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano began to heal slowly and painfully, feeling additionally upset by Farmer’s anxieties. Farmer nursed him... (full context)
Chapter 7
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...the Nancy, which was stocked for a trip to Philadelphia. The ship was the largest Equiano had ever seen, so he filled it with as much of his own merchandise as... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
One Sunday morning Equiano passed a meeting-house and saw, through an open door, a tall woman saying something he... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Back in Montserrat, Equiano thought he might be able to purchase his freedom, but King ordered the ship back... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
They arrived safely in Montserrat, where Equiano was now in possession of 47 pounds. He went one morning to meet King and... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano had tears in his eyes as he thanked the two men, and his thoughts turned... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano was given a new name, “Freeman,” the most desirable he could ask for. His fine... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano embarked for St. Eustatia and Georgia again on the Nancy; this time they had to... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Indeed, Equiano knew of a free black carpenter who was jailed for asking for his wages, and... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano returned aboard and they prepared to carry cattle to the West Indies. Equiano had gotten... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...week several of the cattle died. Farmer, the mate, and others grew ill, such that Equiano was left almost alone in charge. Approaching death, Farmer called for Equiano and asked if... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
The mate, now in charge, was unable to prevent the other cattle from dying, but Equiano’s turkeys thrived: he ended up benefiting from not taking the cattle. 10 days later, under... (full context)
Chapter 8
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
More than ever Equiano wanted to return to England, but in response to Mr. King’s entreaties, he resolved to... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Suddenly, as the ship was dashed on all sides, Equiano felt that the wrath of God was at hand: he vowed that, if saved, he’d... (full context)
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
While the others began to drink in despair, Equiano started to mend certain parts of the ship. Finally the swells subsided and, as day... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano’s thoughts returned to his dream, which had now come true, and he concluded that if... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano and the others made tents for shelter and began to wonder how they might leave... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...if they helped work the ship. Upon learning they were going first to Jamaica, though, Equiano declined, waited until Phillips hired a ship to take himself and some of the slaves... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano went to lodge at a friend’s house, a black man named Mosa. That night, while... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Another day, Equiano was a little outside Savannah when he was beset by two white men, one of... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Eventually Equiano found a place on a ship bound for the French island Martinico (Martinique). Before he... (full context)
Chapter 9
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano vowed never to return to Georgia, given the way he was treated there. He enjoyed... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Finally, that summer, Equiano got his money and he arrived in St. Kitt’s on July 19th. He wanted to... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
After seven weeks they arrived in London, where Equiano was stunned to immediately receive his wages. He went in search of the Miss Guerins,... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
The Miss Guerins were curious to know what Equiano wanted to do in life, and he asked if they might know someone who could... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...ancient Turkish city rich in food and with a population generally kind to black people. Equiano was surprised to very rarely see women, and when he did they were covered head... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
After returning from Turkey to England, the group went to Portugal for Carnival, where Equiano saw a number of remarkable sights. They sailed afterwards to the Mediterranean, where Equiano was... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
In 1771 Equiano returned in another ship to the West Indies. There, a white man bought some of... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
A month later they returned to England, but Equiano still felt eager to see the world, so he left again for Jamaica, where he... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In May 1773, though, Equiano decided to travel again and he was hired as part of an expedition to seek... (full context)
Selfhood Theme Icon
On the ship Equiano began to use an apparatus invented by Dr. Irving to make saltwater fresh. On June... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
The sailors knew themselves to be constantly in danger of perishing, and Equiano spent a great deal of time thinking about eternity and fearing death. Even former blasphemers... (full context)
Chapter 10
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Back in London, Equiano began to reflect on his near brush with death and on the necessity of acknowledging... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
In early 1774, Equiano found a captain bound for Smyrna and he recommended a black man, John Annis, to... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano was suffering himself during this time, worrying about his own sins. His only comfort was... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
That evening, Equiano was surprised to see many ministers but no eating and drinking. Some speakers began to... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano returned home and was newly shocked to hear God’s name taken in vain so often... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Then Equiano heard of a man who died fully assured of going to heaven. Equiano asked how,... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Equiano was hired again for a ship to Cadiz in Spain, and was upset to hear... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
One evening, while reading the Bible, Equiano began to think that he had indeed lived a good life, but still wondered whether... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
On the ship, few people believed Equiano’s story, and he longed to be in London among more like-minded people. His only comfort... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Equiano was still puzzled about a certain Bible verse, so he went to see a famous... (full context)
Chapter 11
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In March 1775 Equiano left again for Cadiz. The trip was smooth sailing until they reached the bay, where... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...God’s name in vain. One day a young passenger rebuked the captain for it, and Equiano seconded him: the captain remained silent. Soon enough, though, Providence looked kindly on them: Equiano... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
...plan of cultivating a plantation in Jamaica and in the Musquito Shore, and he wanted Equiano to go with him. Equiano accepted, hoping to be able to convert some of the... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In mid-January they arrived in Jamaica, where Equiano took the Musquito Prince George to church. He also accompanied Irving to purchase some slaves... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
The Indians often came to trade with them. Equiano noticed that the husbands never had more than two wives, and the men and women... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...the governor struck one of the friendlier chiefs and stole his hat. Irving fled, leaving Equiano alone with the group. Equiano remembered a passage from a life of Columbus he’d read... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Equiano observed the natives making a potent alcoholic drink out of roasted and fermented pineapples, a... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
The rainy season was very heavy that year, and Equiano, who thought this was God’s punishment for working on Sundays, longed to return to England.... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
The next morning, after the sailors had lifted the anchor, they finally released Equiano, who asked an acquaintance to intercede. The acquaintance obtained a canoe for Equiano to slip... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Equiano was forced, on this ship, to participate in hard labor like cutting mahogany wood. One... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
The ship sailed past many uninhabited islands, where Equiano cut down coconut trees. He had been a whole day without food when he prayed... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
...ship headed for Jamaica that happened to be carrying Dr. Irving,, but Baker wouldn’t allow Equiano to leave. Equiano learned that the plantation he’d left had hired a white overseer who... (full context)
Chapter 12
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Since 1777, Equiano notes, his life has been more regular: he asks his reader to have patience as... (full context)
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
In 1777 Equiano was employed as a servant by Governor Macnamara. Equiano often asked other servants to join... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
In 1783 Equiano visited Wales and saw a coal-pit, but while he was there the coals fell in... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Conversion, Providence, and God’s Will Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
After another trip to and from London and Philadelphia, Equiano learned that the British government had decided to send some Africans back to their native... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Since then, Equiano states, he’s attempted to help the cause of his countrymen. He hopes that the British... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
Equiano argues that torture, murder, and other barbarities are performed against the slaves with impunity. It’s... (full context)
Culture, Education, and “Civilizing” Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Commerce and Trade Theme Icon
Selfhood Theme Icon
In May 1791 Equiano sailed to Dublin and traveled around Ireland. After returning to London, he learned that editions... (full context)