Homework Questions: Equiano (c. 1745-1797) : The Interesting Narrative of the Life (1789)
What did the "iconography of African passivity"
What is the significance of the doubts regarding the place
of Equiano's birth?
Explain the significance of the different names Equiano is
given and his response to the names.
Explain Equiano's views on his appearance, as compared to
those of his African brethren and the little white girl.
Describe the treatment of the slaves in the West Indies.
Mary Prince (c. 1788-after 1833): History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave,
Related by Herself (1831)
In the introduction to the Schomburg Library edition of
this work, editor William Andrews explains the significance of
Prince's closing remarks (found at the end of the introduction
of our version), asserting that her declaration "constitutes
the first claim in the Afro-American autobiographical
tradition for the black woman's authority as a spokesperson
for all black people, regardless of
gender, on the subject of 'what slaves feel' about the
morality of slavery" (xxxiv).
In describing the fact that the text was ghostwritten,
Andrews remarks, "The power to write their own stories as they
saw fit did not come to female slaves as early as it did to
male slaves" (xxxiv).
The excerpt opens after Prince, aged about 12, has been
sold with her two sisters to three different owners, as her
"owner's" father, Mr. Williams, needs money for his second
marriage after the death of the kindly first Mrs.
Williams. Prince's discussion of this experience
includes a description of her mother, who accompanies her
children to say goodbye to them, bidding them to be obedient.
Explain: "I was mercifully preserved for better
What is the significance of the earthquake?
Why isn't Prince allowed to say goodbye to her family?
What is the difference, according to Prince, between Mr.
D— and Capt. I — ?
Explain Prince's final statement on this page.
Other Discussion Questions: Olaudah Equiano:
How does Equiano describe the Middle Passage?
What is a travelogue?
What is a spiritual autobiography?
What is an iron muzzle? What is its purpose?
Explain Equiano's impression of the white people in
Describe the circumstances under which Equiano is sold to