Comparing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauda Equiano and Wiesel’s The Death of My Father
This essay will focus on the two works, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauda Equiano by Olauda Equiano and "The Death of My Father" by Elie Wiesel. Although these works are quite different, at the same time they are sadly similar.
Both works have value to me as they describe events that have historical significance. Their personal descriptions of these events help one better feel and understand the atrocities inflicted on both the African and Jewish people.
Equiano's was most poignant as it details the crimes committed against the African people. Equiano's story tells us of his abduction and separation from his family, particularly his little sister. I learned that slaves were bought and sold in Africa, from African to African. I guess I just never realized that this was a practice before European influence. Of course, the difference seems to be that the African masters did not ill treat their slaves. It was not until Equiano was sold to the white traders that he became "converted into terror" and even after many years had passed he was "yet at a loss to describe" (479).
Equiano's graphic account of the conditions on board the slave ship pained me as I read. I could only imagine the suffering as he described "the heat," "the air...unfit for respiration" and the "shrieks...and the groans of the dying" (481). While Equiano was luckier than most, if it can be considered luck. He reports the general treatment of slaves by their owners following their arrival in America. Equiano tells of sexual assaults against the slave women to include young children, the maiming and torture as punishment for a myriad of real or perceived [acts of] disobedience, and the general belief among the white slave owners that the Africans were not human and should therefore not be treated as such.
It is impressive that Equiano, against all odds, is able to work and procure his freedom. As I read, I feared that he would not achieve his goal. I feared that his master would retract his agreement and I was quite pleased at the end. Equiano is a hero in that he survived and excelled in the very world that tried to subdue him and his people. This was a touching story and I am grateful...that it was part of the syllabus.
"The Death of My Father" was heart wrenching. This is about the inner conflict Wiesel faced upon the anniversary of his father's...