EQUIANO’S ATTITUDES TOWARD SLAVE TRADE IN THE 18TH CENTURY
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Equiano’s attitudes toward slave trade in the 18th century
Like a contagious disease, the transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century had spread farther inland to an extend of destroying the tranquility of Equiano’s homeland. Initially, slavery was part of the culture that constituted an apparently healthy social order in which Equiano grew up. However, Equiano offers a transformation of his attitude towards the transatlantic slave trade and the varieties of the 18th century slavery. With personal experience and observation, he shares the suffering of the people of African descent in hands of the white men who supported the slavery and the trade. In addition, Equiano gives first-hand information on the dehumanizing conditions that the African slaves were transported in.
The white men behavior towards the black slaves made Equiano and fellow Africans to fear them. To be more specific, upon boarding into the ship, Equiano is checked to ascertain if he is fit by tossing. His first cruel handling makes him feel to be in presence of evil spirit. In addition, the language and the complexion of the white men send him to horror. In this moment of confusion, he sees black people chained up and looking sorrowful. He falls down and faints. Although he wakes up and he is given a glass of liquor to feel better, he completely feels the opposite. Further, he states that the ship was filled with stench and cries that made him sick and unable to eat what he was offered by the white men. Consequently, he is severely whipped for refusing to eat before leaving him free on the deck. According to Equiano, the prisoners were cut for attempting to jump out of the ship and severely flogged for refusing to eat. To Equiano surprise a white man is flogged to death by his crew member. Principally, white men were not only cruel to the black men but also to their fellow white men at some instances.
According to Equiano, when the ship there using from Africa docked for them board another vessel, the stench at the coast where they docked was intolerably loathsome. The air seemed dangerous for human to remain at the coast any longer than necessary. Further, the deck of the ship they boarded was not well ventilated for the fresh hair. It was crowded with people and cargo together. To make the conditions worse, the tropical hot climate made people almost suffocate. Unfortunately, the heat and crowding resulted to death of some of the prisoners. In conjunction to this dehumanizing condition, the prisoners’ chains to which children fell become unsupportable making fall to the deck time to time. Generally, the cries of women and the groans of the dying made the scene horror.
In conclusion, it important to state that Equiano survived the trials associated with the slave ship voyage across the Atlantic Ocean called the Middle Passage. It was horrendous for all the prisoners and slaves on board. Equiano shares the severe flogging, the stench below the decks, the cries of women and the groans of the dying slaves. In additions, he says that that the experience terrified him that he wished to die to avoid suffering further. Possibly, I believe he endured these conditions to tell the story because he spent most of his time on the deck where he was not chained.
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