Olaudah Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vassa was born in Africa in 1745. when he was a small child, he and his sister were kidnapped by slave traders. He was tossed around in Africa for about 13 months, he was then destined to board a slave ship and go to America, more specifically, Virginia. The slave ship was horrifying and dangerous, he was haunted by a fear of not knowing what his future would be. He had good reason to be afraid, this was a brutal experience. Many died, many got severely ill, and all the slaves were headed to an unknown future. He was acquired by another owner, then he was purchased by a man in the British Navy, and began an adventure that transformed his life.
As I read the few chapters about his life in the British Navy, it was fairly clear what his attitude was regarding the situation. Most young boys have one of two main opinions of the military lifestyle. The first group, believe it to be not worth what they would have to go through, and they do not take on this lifestyle. The second group, get really involved, they develop interest in all of the adventurous events that made the world what it was today. This second group spends time studying history and fantasying what it would be like to go back in time and see the action. I believe Equiano, belonged to the second group, but instead of wondering what it would be like to see historical events, he was able to experience some of it first hand, while still in his childhood.
Equiano appeared to have an excited, and interested attitude toward his daily adventures in the British Navy. At first, he said that he wished he were involved in a battle. He had accepted the possibility of danger in a war, but that did not depress him. “I longed to engage in new adventures and see fresh wonders.” But along with this feeling of excitement came a sense of burning fear and anxiety, unknowing of what would become of him in the next few weeks, days, hours, or minutes.
His fears of what might happen to him in the future, were much worse prior to his voyages in the British Navy, but they were not completely absent after he had entered the British Navy. Personally, I think this had something to do with him becoming a Christian, but that is debatable. Most people in his position would have a high level of fear. Think about it, he was on the seas preparing to defend England from the enemy.
Whatever his attitude of the situation was, it is clear that he was extraordinarily observant. He paid attention to detail, and the reader gets a good verbal image of what’s going on around him. His enthusiasm combined with his fear made the observation unique and easy to read. He dis something that not very many writers can do, and that is give the reader the ability to look through his eyes.