The Life of Olaudah Equiano

how did Equiano characterize the description of the slave ship and white slalve traders

Explain Equiano descriptionof the slave ship and white slave traders

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In Chapter Two, as in many others, Equiano seeks to differentiate between the brutality and immorality of the "civilized" Europeans and their African counterparts. This distinction begins even when he is enslaved by native Africans. His experience while still on the continent varies wildly depending on the masters, and he experiences nowhere near the sense of dehumanization as he would when put on a ship. Some of them even treat him as nearly a peer.

However, what most marks the white slaveowners is what he observes while at sea. He is astonished at their wastefulness, deliberate in the context of so many hungry people below deck. Their behavior to their captives is avaricious, violent, and depraved. The horrific details of the text speak for themselves.

Equiano even points out that Africans near the coast were markedly more immoral and corrupt because of their closer contact with the whites. They were unclean, their women were much more brazen, and they showed a disrespect for their bodies through the alterations they made. This idea was not original to Equiano's work. In a 1774 work entitled Thoughts upon Slavery, John Wesley wrote, "the Negros who inhabit the coast of Africa...are represented by them who have no motive to flatter them, as remarkably industrious...As fair, just, and honest in all their dealings, unless where Whitemen have taught them otherwise,...And as far more mild, friendly and kind to Strangers, than any of our Forefathers were." In other words, they have lost any innocence and grace to the corruption of the slavetrading Europeans.