Social Isolation In The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

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Olaudah Equiano in his Interesting Narrative is taken from his African home and thrown into a Western world completely foreign to him. Equiano is a slave for a total of ten years and endeavors to take on certain traits and customs of Western thinking. He takes great pains to improve himself, learn religion, and adopt Western mercantilism. However, Equiano holds on to a great deal of his African heritage. Throughout the narrative, the author keeps his African innocence and purity of intent; two qualities he finds sorely lacking in the Europeans. This compromise leaves him in a volatile middle ground between his adapted West and his native Africa. Olaudah Equiano takes on Western ideals while keeping several of his African …show more content…

This view is very different from Equiano's own view when he had only recently been abducted from Africa when he perceived everything around him as magic. Lastly, Equiano absorbs the spirit of mercantilism around him while in the West Indies in servitude to Mr. King. For many years he buys and sells around the islands making steady profits until he is able to buy his freedom. His small commerce seems to be a microcosm of the larger commerce he is aiding with his services. He scarcely mentions any commerce before in his indigenous Africa.

Although Equiano makes a concerted attempt to become European, he retains his African innocence and purity of intent. Various cruel displays by whites on both Africans and their own people through out the narrative greatly disturb him because his vision of normality remains distinctly African. When Equiano is first taken by the Europeans he witnesses a white man "flogged so unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it; and they tossed him over the side as they would have done a brute" (756).

This action makes him very afraid because they conflict with his African ideals as do other injustices done to some of his fellow Africans. On a Virginia plantation

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