Marks of Identity

In: English and Literature

Submitted By smellslikepoo
Words 1237
Pages 5
Rachel Lee Professor Williams HSS2: Final Paper April 30th, 2012

Marks of Identity

In Olaudah Equiano’s self­entitled narrative, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, there is a correlation between appearances, be it within the context of clothing or bodily markings, and Equiano’s perception of his own identity. As we, the readers, go along his journey with him, there are points in his narrative that involve appearances by other people and some kind of change in aesthetic that provides insight into how he’s changing as a character. More specifically, how Equiano’s understanding of himself changes as he moves from place to place and fulfills different roles from slave to freeman.

At the end of the narrative, Equiano makes an important and seemingly cryptic statement about how “if any incident in this little work should appear uninteresting and trifling to most raders, I can only say as my excuse for mentioning it, that almost every event of my life made an impression on my mind and influenced my conduct.” (214) which infers that the ostensibly “uninteresting” and “trifling” observations he

has made within the duration of his narrative have the potential of holding significance and meaning of some sort that isn’t readily apparent. This could be applied to certain instances of when he describes people of other nations and how his aesthetic for beauty, or perhaps attractiveness seems to shift just as his persona does.

The first occasion in which another person or group of people’s appearance had held some sort of meaning was when he was discussing how his father “was one of those elders or chiefs I have spoken of, and was styled Embrenche; a term, as I remember, importing the highest distinction, and signifiying in our language a mark of grandeur.” (44) Equiano continues on to describe the mark and how it is acquired by the person who…...

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