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The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings Summary
Olaudah Equiano

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The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings Summary

Plot Summary

The Interesting Narrative is African-born Olaudah Equiano's first-hand autobiographical account of his sea voyages around the West Indies, the Mediterranean, and elsewhere. Equiano is kidnapped into slavery at age eleven and fights for many years for his freedom, becoming a significant voice in the abolitionist movement in his later years.

Equiano recounts his early, happy childhood in the inland African province of Eboe. The people of Eboe are simple farmers, and Equiano's father is a respected elder. Equiano and his sister are kidnapped when he is eleven. After serving as a slave in Africa, he is forced to endure a long journey across Africa. Equiano is separated from his sister, and he never sees his sister or family again when he is whisked away into the slave trade by boat.

He ends up in Virginia as a plantation slave. A British Royal Navy officer named Michael Henry Pascal takes a liking to Equiano on a visit and purchases him. Equiano then spends the next few years with Pascal on board military ships as Pascal rises in the ranks. Equiano is present during the siege of Louisbourgh during the Seven Years' War, among other conflicts involving the British against the French.

Fooled by Pascal into thinking he is earning his freedom by working under the naval officer, Pascal instead cruelly sells Equiano to another man, Captain Doran. Doran in turn sells Equiano to a man named Robert King on the West Indies island of Montserrat. Pascal spends years under King working with a man named Captain Thomas Farmer, loading and unloading ships and traveling to various places in the Caribbean and the American colonies.

During this time, Equiano establishes a small but lucrative merchant trade, buying goods and selling them in another location. Eventually he procures enough money to buy his freedom from King, who reluctantly agrees to sign Equiano's manumission, a document declaring Equiano a free man.

After some time working under King and others in the Caribbean, Equiano travels to England and becomes apprentice to a hairdresser, Dr. Irving. Not finding the wages enough to support himself, Equiano engages in further sea voyages, including an ill-fated expedition in the Arctic to find a north-east passage to India, and a voyage to the Musquito Coast to help start a plantation. After the Arctic voyage in particular, Equiano expresses a need to find a religion, and later passages are devoted to Equiano's "born-again" conversion to Christianity, particularly Protestantism.

Equiano spends his last years living comfortably in England, arguing against slavery and distributing his Interesting Narrative to interested and sympathetic citizens around the United Kingdom.

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