In the book, "The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano, the African," what is the significance of "written by himself?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Equiano's work is one of the first slave autobiographies in American Literature.  Coming out in the late 18th Century, its significance of being "written by himself" is one of the first statements about the horrors of slavery.  Equiano's work can be described as something that helps to bring to light how the institution of slavery was dehumanizing and something that needed to be stopped immediately.  Its autobiographical nature was significant because it provided irrefutable evidence as to how slavery was evil and something that was morally repugnant.  The statement that comes out of this book is that Equiano is a human being, similar to the reader and to White society of the time period.  In trying to humanize the condition of slaves, Equiano is quite successful in being able to bring about a rebuke of slavery and the practices that allow it to continue.  In the autobiographical nature of the work, one has little choice but to concede that he is right in his assertions.

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