Equiano's Travel Questions

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1. Olaudah Equiano represented a confluence of African and European cultures. While he spent only his childhood in Africa, Equiano remained cognizant of his African heritage and tied to his cultural roots. Yet he also embraced British culture and customs with prodigious alacrity. Equiano imbibed British ideas about liberty, commerce, Protestant religion, and social habits and mores. He even married an Englishwoman, Susan Cullen, and lived out his days in London. In short, Equiano lionized British society and sought to emulate his white peers. How does Equiano define his identity? Is he African? Is he British? How do you explain this hybridity?

2. Equiano was baptized into the Christian faith at the age of fourteen in 1759. What role does religion play in his life? Discuss Equiano’s relationship with God and his belief in the fatalism of Providence.

3. Equiano purchased his freedom for forty pounds at the age of twenty-one in 1766. Throughout his narrative, he became an able and astute entrepreneur. What role does the economy play in Equiano’s life? In what ways does commerce make him a modern man? What is Equiano’s economic solution to slavery at the end of the book?

4. Equiano was familiar with the entire system of slavery from Africa to the Middle Passage to plantation life in the West Indies and United States. How do his experiences of African slavery and New-World slavery compare? What is his view of slavery? Is it so simple as a one-sided condemnation, or is it more complicated? Does Equiano accept slavery under any circumstances? Are their ways in which it is legitimized?

5. Autobiography is a literary genre that allows the author to recall and record events from his or her past. Intentionally or not, however, sometimes autobiographers reinvent their pasts to their advantage. Memory and interpretation can obscure what actually took place. In what ways does Equiano appeal to the reader? Does he present a judicious and...
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