What was Equiano’s Attitude Regarding His Life in the British Navy?

During the past while I have read quite a few slave narratives, or autobiographies of people who were slaves, but the narrative of Olaudah Equinao(1745-1797), is unique compared to the other narratives. The reason why his narrative was unique was due to the fact that he was the slave of a British navy lieutenant, and grew up in the navy. Usually the other individuals who wrote slave narratives were slaves on plantations. But what was Equiano’s attitude regarding his life in the British Navy?

Equiano was born in a small African village; his father was the chief of the village, which meant his early life was pleasant. He had a relatively large family, with six siblings, which included five brothers and one sister. Sadly this life did not last long for him; when he was eleven he and his sister were kidnapped, while their parents were away. He and his sister were separated, and he was taken and sold to several places. Finally he was taken to America, and was sold there, but this did not last long, and he was sold again this time to a British navy lieutenant.

When Equiano first entered life in the navy, he was terrified. He was scared of the ships, the sailors who were Europeans(who he thought at first were bad spirits), and the weapons on board the ship. He even thought that the sailors would sacrifice him, or eat him! But eventually over time he adjusted, and even began to enjoy the life of being a sailor; and even made friends with some of the sailors. This adjustment especially occurred when he began understanding English, which helped him understand what was going on, not having a barrier in life, and also this helped him not feel so terrified anymore.

Equiano’s attitude regarding his life in the British Navy, really relates to how he adjusted to that life. At first he was scared of everyone and everything but soon enough he adjusted and became accustomed to it. His attitude towards this life was mostly one of excitement. He was excited for life, especially with the idea that he may even fight in a battle. He also became relatively close with his master.

So far reading the narrative or autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, I have noticed many differences compared to other slave narratives, which has made it feel in my opinion a quite unique read. One of the most important aspects of Equiano’s life which is different compared to other individuals who were slaves was the fact that he was the slave of a British navy lieutenant meaning that he lived in the navy, which is pretty different. His attitude towards his life at the time was mostly one of excitement, which was what I discussed in this essay. 


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