In Chapter 2, Equiano describes his kidnapping and transport across the Middle Passage. He uses imagery to build pathos, convincing readers that conditions in the Middle Passage are physically and emotionally unbearable:
The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, being so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchasers.
Equiano starts by describing the sensation of pressing up against other bodies in an already-hot climate. He reports that all the enslaved people's bodies are packed onto the ship so tightly that it "almost suffocate[s]" them—further, the word "closeness" can be used to describe foul smells, thus simultaneously engaging some olfactory imagery of the unbearable stench below deck. Equiano has already described a scene that could induce a suffocating panic for many people, but this near-suffocation is also physical and literal. He and the others struggle to draw a breath because there is no room for their lungs to inflate and scarcely any air that hasn't already been exhaled many times over. He describes the discomfort not only of sweating, but also of trying to make do with air that stinks with too many people's body odor. He leaves it to the imagination to consider how the smell worsens when people begin dying.
Although the influential white men he primarily addresses in his narrative have not been forced onto a ship like this one, they have likely experienced the discomfort of crowds. Equiano's imagery draws on those discomforts and amplifies them so that his readers begin to sympathize with the people forced to endure the Middle Passage. After he stirs their sympathy, he moves on to more particular and more horrifying imagery to describe conditions on the ship:
This deplorable situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered it a scene of horror almost inconceivable.
Here, Equiano offers readers the visual and tactile image of being weighed down by chains. Primed to imagine themselves in the position of the enslaved people, the reader now must imagine how uncomfortable and how dehumanizing it would be to be chained like this. The image of children falling into "necessary tubs," or chamber pots, draws on sight, sound, and smell as well as sympathy to further horrify the reader. Finally, the "shrieks" and "groans" punctuate the "scene of horror" that Equiano is asking readers to conceive of despite the fact that it is "almost inconceivable," even to someone who was there. A careful reader should feel disgusted, angry, and bewildered that such a scene can be real and especially that this horror can be inflicted by one group of people onto another. Equiano wants to leverage these feelings to convince his readers to stop the slave trade.