The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Passive vs. Oppressive Appropriation in Equiano and Get Out College

Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography “The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano: or Gustavus Vassa, the African,” presents a created identity of the “enlightened slave,” as a means of appealing to the pathos of the British and American people regarding the trans-Atlantic slave trade. By establishing that he desires to be perceived positively as a Judeo-Christian, Equiano is essentially saying that blacks can behave similarly to whites and thus deserve equality. Furthermore Equiano’s transformation into a Christian is self-explained as one of the most important aspects of his life, and is thus an appeal to be treated the same as whites. This seems dissimilar to modern African American art as Equiano persuades his audience that assimilation is the condition in which equality will occur, however Equiano’s new identity is not necessarily conformed to whiteness, but rather shaped by his freedom to experience other cultures and not defined in terms of creed. So by reinventing himself Equiano can obtain his freedom.

Conversely, Jordan Peele’s horror film Get Out, contains African-American characters that experience assimilation through subjugation and fetishization rather than free will and understanding of self, and ultimately the...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1047 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8139 literature essays, 2277 sample college application essays, 354 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in