The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African

by Gustavas Vassa

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Describe the ship's hold conditions in Olaudah Equiano's narrative.

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Olaudah Equiano describes the conditions in the hold of the ship as overcrowded, smelly, dirty, and so disease-ridden that it was dangerous. The slaves were kept like cargo, so they were chained together, underfed, and had no space to turn about. Children would fall into tubs of waste and almost suffocate. The stench was so overwhelming and potent that it was suffocating and deadly, and the moans and screams of death added to the horror. The conditions were so inhumane that many slaves preferred to kill themselves than endure the suffering. In fact, Equiano wrote that he often envied those who had died, as they gained their freedom that way. The white captors treated the slaves this way because they viewed them as goods to buy and sell and viewed them as inferior, subhuman creatures because they were not Christians. The few white men who showed mercy and tried to help the slaves were beaten or killed.

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