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Explain if you think that there are differences between the captures of Olaudah Equiano...

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jakande | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted June 14, 2013 at 12:43 AM via web

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Explain if you think that there are differences between the captures of Olaudah Equiano and Venture Smith.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:11 AM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited.  I would suggest that there is a slight, ever so slight, difference between both narratives of capture.  The difference does not detract from how horrific both stories of human suffering actually are. 

In Equiano's narrative, the act of capture is done apart from the larger social setting.  Both he and his sister are taken when the rest of the members of the tribe are away.  Equiano phrases this as an incident in which the strength of the community was absent: "One day, when all our people were gone out to their works as usual, and only I and my dear sister were left to mind the house, two men and a woman got over our walls, and in a moment seized us both."  This is in contrast to Smith's telling.  In Smith's vision, the entire community, situated in the weeds of the rural setting, were seized upon by kidnappers and the entire community was taken as one large mass:

They then came to us in the reeds, and the very first salute I had from them was a violent blow on the head with the fore part of a gun, and at the same time a grasp round the neck. I then had a rope put about my neck, as had all the women in the thicket with me, and were immediately led to my father, who was likewise pinioned and haltered for leading.

The conditions of capture are the same.  Foreigners come and forcibly take people of color.  Yet, in the case of Equiano, it seems that the experience is a bit more localized in terms of both he and his sister being taken and in the case of Smith, the condition of kidnapping is externalized to a broader community.

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