“We were not many days in the merchant’s custody, before we were sold after their usual manner, which is this: On a signal given (as the beat of the drum), the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves were confined, and make choice of that parcel they like the best.” – Olaudah Equiano, The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano
There are many passages in Olaudah Equiano’s narrative which demonstrate life as a slave during the 1700’s. This specific passage comments on the uncertain nature of a slave’s life, the depravity of the slave trade and a microcosm of 18th century culture. There is an interesting contrast between the buyers rushing to obtain a confined slave. It may be unintentional but it comments on the nature of 18th century America: the vogue, societal accepted – nay, endorsed – thing was to own a slave. They were the 18th century Ipad.
A good narrative is comprised in the details of how people act. From the Diary of Anne Frank to the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, what makes the main points so telling is the scene they set for the story. Their narratives have buyers rushing to the confined slaves and a son teaching himself to write or formulate arguments by candlelight. Those aspects are the things that make the revelations of their lives. In society we tend to make elite the people who make decisions or make some sort of invention. We assume that they are a class unknown to us. What we neglect to acknowledge is they often come from similar circumstances.