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How Olaudah Equiano dealt with the conventions of auotobiography in his writings?

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sejoarima | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM via web

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How Olaudah Equiano dealt with the conventions of auotobiography in his writings?

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

Posted February 6, 2012 at 6:30 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Equiano's work can be seen as representing some of the basic conventions of the autobiography.  On one hand, the narrative's strong indictment of slavery and the institution that keeps individuals in bondage can represent the idea of autobiography as a critique of totalitarianism.  In very direct terms, Equiano writes to bring recognition to the fact that the slave trade that he detests must be abolished.  He makes specific mention of this in the narrative, but the presence of the narrative, in its most existential manner, is a representation of the convention that the autobiography can be a critique of a regime that silences voices and marginalizes a group of people.  Another convention that is automatically fulfilled by Equiano's work is the fact that it is entirely subjective.  The nature of an autobiography, fictionalized or real, is that it is embedded in the subjective voice.  This can be seen in Equiano's work which details his life as a child and as an adult, both within the confines of slavery and outside of it.  In this, the nature of the autobiography is both fulfilled and revealed.

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