1.Determining the possible influences on an author or limitations of an author's point of view is an important tool for understanding the validity and reliability of a source.
Read this excerpt
Identify the statements that might cause a reader to challenge the accuracy of Equiano's narrative.
2. Explain in detail the Thirty Years War, why the war broke out between Catholics and Protestants and how the Treaty of WestphaliaLinks to an external site. (1648) forever changed the history of Europe.
Avalon Project – Treaty of Westphalia (yale.edu)
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of
Olaudah Equiano (1789), Olaudah Equiano
Taught to read and write by his masters, Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1797) published The
Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789)
after purchasing his freedom in 1766. Known as Gustavus Vassa during his lifetime, he was
active in the British abolitionist movement.
The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast, was the sea, and a slave ship,
which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment,
which was soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled,
and tossed up to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had
gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions, too,
differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke (which was very
different from any I had ever heard), united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed, such were the
horrors of my views and fears at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I
would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest
slave in my own country. When I looked round the ship too, and saw a large furnace of copper
boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their
countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate; and, quite
overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I
recovered a little, I found some black people about me, who I believed were some of those who
had brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they talked to me in order to cheer
me, but all in vain. . . .
I now saw myself deprived of all chance of returning to my native country, or even the
least glimpse of hope of gaining the shore, which I now considered as friendly; and I even
wished for my former slavery in preference to my present situation, which was filled with
horrors of every kind, still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo. I was not long
suffered to indulge my grief; I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a
salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life; so that, with the loathsomeness of
the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor I had the
least desire to taste anything. . . .
In a little time after, amongst the poor chained men, I found some of my own nation,
which in a small degree gave ease to my mind. I inquired of these what was to be done with us?
They gave me to understand, we were to be carried to these white people’s country to work for
them. I then was a little revived, and thought, if it were no worse than working, my situation was
not so desperate; but still I feared I should be put to death, the white people looked and acted, as
I thought, in so savage a manner; for I had never seen among any people such instances of brutal
cruelty; and this not only shown towards us blacks, but also to some of the whites themselves.
One white man in particular I saw, when we were permitted to be on deck, flogged so
unmercifully with a large rope near the foremast, that he died in consequence of it; and they
tossed him over the side as they would have done a brute. This made me fear these people the
more; and I expected nothing less than to be treated in the same manner. . . .
At last, when the ship we were in, had got in all her cargo, they made ready with many
fearful noises, and we were all put under deck, so that we could not see how they managed the
vessel. But this disappointment was the least of my sorrow. The stench of the hold while we
were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to remain there for any
time, and some of us had been permitted to stay on the deck for the fresh air; but now that the
whole ship’s cargo were confined together, it became absolutely pestilential. The closeness of
the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded
that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. 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. . . . The shrieks of the
women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable.
Happily perhaps, for myself, I was soon reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to
keep me almost always on deck; and from my extreme youth I was not put in fetters. In this
situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost
daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to
Source: Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or
Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (New York: Norton, 2001), pp. 38–41.