HIST 370 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Henry Louis Gates Jr., Thicket

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21 Oct 2016
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Honors History 370: Professor Jeffrey Kaja
Reading Week 3: Excerpt from The Classic Slave Narratives Edited and with an Introduction by
Henry Louis Gates Jr. : The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olauoab Equiano (Gustavas
Vassa)
*TN: Again, the passage itself is copyrighted so I cannot include the excerpt in this overview of
the narrative and all information is reworded and the facts presented are still the intellectual
property of the current publisher/owner.
*TN: The beginning of the narrative accounts his experiences as an African slave, the latter
describes his experience as an European slave
Biographical Infromation:
.Equiano had six siblings, where his younger sister was the only daughter of the family
.Equiano was also the youngest of the brothers in his family
.From a young age he was trained in the art of war and practiced shooting and throwing javelins
Contextual Information:
.He would often hold lookout atop a tree over other children while the adults were out in the
fields working to alert any of rogues who would kidnap children into slavery
.He succeeded many times, but eventually no adults were nearby to apprehend the rogue at his
signal, and he and his sister were kidnapped
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.He and his sister were eventually separated by the kidnappers and served different masters
.He often switched around masters a lot until he was put into the hands of a chieftain of a
pleasant country
.(Still an African slave [i.e the slave of a chieftain in Africa]) He was treated with care by the
chieftain and his family
.He accounts, that even though he is far from his fathers home, his masters still spoke the exact
same language as his father had and he found it strange
.When entrusted by his master to go a bit farther off from the vicinity of the main house, he
would often gather information for an escape such as when and where the sun would set and rise
and locate the direction of his fathers home
.One day he was taking care of the poultry with an old slave woman, and tossed a pebble and
accidentally killed one of the household chickens. The old woman slave reported it to her
mistress, and in fear of the beating and flogging he might receive, he ran into a thicket of bushes
in the forest. The mistress and old woman slave tried finding him, but with no response at calling
his name, the mistress thought he had run away and an uproar in the neighborhood had started a
pursuit of him
.The thicket of bushes in the forest was so thick, it was easy to conceal a body and not be seen.
He avoided being discovered, though many times he was close to being discovered, and hid in
the forest.
.Hunger and thirst was overwhelming him as he had not eaten nor drank the entire day and snuck
into his masters kitchen, which was a small outside shed, to consume food and rehydrate. He
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