Equiano is very careful with his tone throughout the narrative, striking a balance between modesty and deference, on the one hand, and directness on the other hand. For example, in Chapter 1, he writes:
People generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read or remembered which abound in great or striking events; those in short, which, in a high degree, excite either admiration or pity: all others they consign to contempt and oblivion. It is therefore, I confess, not a little hazardous in a private and obscure individual, and a stranger too, thus to solicit the indulgent attention of the public; especially when I own I offer here the history of neither a saint, a hero, nor a tyrant.
By confessing that he is "neither a saint, a hero, nor a tyrant," Equiano lets his readers know that he does not think he is special and that he feels that he is barely important enough to write a memoir. This modesty serves two main purposes. First, it puts some of his readers at ease. Equiano is mainly addressing powerful white men who have the ability to make slavery and the slave trade illegal. He knows that many of them will be uncomfortable listening to a Black man tell them about everything that is wrong with the society they rule. Equiano has lionized these men, referring to them with all their honorifics, but when it comes to representing himself, he makes a point of downplaying his own prestige. In this way, Equiano minimizes the chance that his audience will shut down immediately, labeling him audacious for speaking up about his experiences with enslavement.
Equiano's modesty also serves to emphasize just how heinous slavery is. He goes on to remark that even his most horrible, outlandish experiences are commonplace among Black people. If this is the case, Equiano's readers can't disregard the horrors of his narrative and act as though they are abnormal. Instead, he asks them to consider his story as a fairly average representation of what enslaved people experience every day. This use of modesty dovetails with Equiano's directness throughout the narrative. He is honest about experiences that are highly emotional, but he does not sentimentalize his life. Nor does he try to placate white readers when he describes the cruelties with which they are complicit. Instead, he lays out the facts for his readers and marshals these facts into a compelling case against enslavement.