Student guide: excerpt from the life of olaudah equiano about the author

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Between the 1500s and the 1800s, about 10 million Africans were forced from their homes and into enslavement. The most difficult part of this journey, known as the Middle Passage, was the two-month trip overseas from West Africa to the West Indies because about 2 million Africans died from malnutrition, disease, suffocation, beatings and despair.


Slave Narrative: an autobiographical account of a formerly enslaved person’s life; helped to expose slave cruelty

Slave Narrative (p.68) Why do you think Equiano took the time to point out how different the physical features of crew on the slave ship were to his?
He has never seen people like this before; they are so different from him,

and this adds to his confusion and fear.
Slave Narrative (p.68) Equiano says that when he first looked around the ship, he saw “a multitude of black people of every description chained together,” and that each of their faces expressed “dejection and sorrow.” What sort of adjectives would you use to describe this image?
The description of so many people chained together with expressions of

sorrow on their faces creates a horrifying image in the reader’s head.

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