The Life of Olaudah Equiano

What part of the narration/description do you find to be the most powerful?

What part of the narration/description do you find to be the most powerful?

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

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. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains, now become insupportable; and the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable. Equiano, 58

I find Equino's account of the slave ship most distressing and powerful. It is a profoundly evocative and devastating account of one of the most terrible events in human history: the forcible removal of millions of Africans from their home, and their subsequent transportation across the Atlantic in slave ships, under the most abominable and hellish conditions imaginable. Slaves were chained to the hold and had to perform their bodily functions while chained. Excrement and refuse were everywhere, and the air was heavy with noxious, harmful smells. There was no privacy, even for women and girls. Slaves could not move about, and barely escaped without their limbs atrophying. They rarely had enough to eat or drink, and would grow sick in droves. The cries of pain, terror, and grief filled the air at all times. Many had no idea why they were there, and were frightened of the white faces on the ship. Individuals were severed from their families and thrust together with strangers whose languages they could not speak. Many were beaten mercilessly. It was so terrible that many slaves wished for death, but even this was rarely possible by one's own volition. Equiano's account is a valuable source for examining the realities of the slave system, for its evocative writing and historical perspective.