Equiano’s Travels In The Pursue Of A True Identity And Purpose Essay Example For College

The pursue of a true identity, seeking your inner purpose, and how to achieve freedom no matter how far they seem to be from you – those are a few words that could describe the Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography, written in 1789. Within this search for freedom and self-discovery he adapts to a completely new lifestyle, and delves into a complete set of new beliefs of life in general – he becomes an Englishmen in manners and mentality, and becomes a Christian. And throughout his real identity pursuit he encounters many obstacles, but mainly the ones of surviving the horrors of slavery, and becoming a free black man in London.

Olaudah Equiano was an African man that lived in the Western part of Africa. The tribe in which Equiano lived was in modern day Nigeria, and it could be considered more civilized than the others of the area due to their manners. His family held a high position in the tribe hierarchy, and Equiano’s father was the chief of the tribe. Equiano’s tribe had their own beliefs and culture – they were circumcised, they washed their hands after funerals to prevent spirits to get in their houses, they were polygamist, and were extremely superstitious (belief in spirits, rituals, and offerings to the spirits).

At the time he lived in Africa, slavery was at its peak, and they would constantly hide and run from other Africans that wanted to kidnap people from tribes to insert them into slavery, and that occurred to Equiano himself. He was captured in his tribe, along with his sister. At first, he was enslaved by African families, in which treated him well, almost as part of his family, a kind of domestic servitude with a certain kinship of that family towards him. As the book goes on, he goes from family to family until he reaches the coast and is sent to England.

Equiano was terrified with this experience of leaving his home country and his people. He felt scared and in the midst of white men, something he had never seen before, he strongly believed that they were unwell spirits that would eat him. Equiano was at this time very young, but he understood the concept of slavery, in which he disagreed and did not fully comprehend why slavery was taking place, and he took it as an unfair thing to do to his countrymen – “Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice? 28). ”

He saw the Englishmen as cruel people that traded Africans in order to satisfy their needs and luxury of getting the work done without spoiling their hands. After a while of Equiano’s living in England and a few trips with his master Pascal, he was named differently than his African name – his name was Gustavus Vasa (and even before this name another master had named him Jacob). Equiano would not give up his African identity at first, (“I at that time began to understand him a little, and refused to be called so […] and when I refused to answer to my new name, which at first I did, it gained me many a cuff (31).

However, after a while, he started to give in, as he saw himself in London, a place filled with wonders and cultural richness. Equiano adapted himself quite well to the nature of the British, as he no longer saw them as spirits; it was quite the opposite, he now was quite interested in their culture, and how they coexisted with each other with organization, politeness, and manners, “[…] I grew a stranger to terror of every kind, and was, in that respect at least, almost an Englishmen. …] I now not only felt myself quite easy with these new countrymen but also relished their society and manners. I no longer looked upon them as spirits, but as men superior to us, and therefore I had the stronger desire to resemble them, to imbibe their spirit and imitate their manners. (38).

Equiano at this point considered himself an African that envied the British culture, a natural and healthy envying, because all he cared now was to become one of them, superior as his original and now fading African identity, and part of it came with the acquaintance of Christianity. He was baptized in February of 1759, as he learned about the Bible, Heaven and Hell, and the so called Providence – the Calvinist ideal in which it is predetermined whether you go to Heaven or Hell; however, the only way to reach Heaven is to be baptized, and so he did.

Equiano now was a slave that understood English, and with his friend Richard Baker, of whom he became very fond of, he learned more and more of the British culture, and how to make himself more alike of the Englishmen – he came to the sense that the British were happier people due to their culture enrichment, and due to their God “[…] and from what I could understand by him of this God, and in seeing these white people did not sell one another as we did, I was much pleased; and in this I thought they were much happier than we Africans (34). Consequently of Equiano’s knowledge of Christianity and fondness of the British culture, came his new identity: a born African man was now in mind and soul a British – the black Christian, which is completely connected to the European way of thinking. He now had the same beliefs as they had, he acted like they did (as much as he could because he was still a slave), and did everything in his power to look like one of them. Race to him was simply his color, in which was unalterable, but his beliefs and thinking was of a true Englishmen.

Specifically, in the chapter where he finds himself in terrible danger due to the naval war he was in, he proves himself a true Christian – a belief he had adapted and learned in England but did not apply until the occasion in which he gave his life unto God’s hands, and let himself choose the fate that Equiano deserved, as he said “[…] immediately afterwards I thought this caution was fruitless, and cheering myself with the reflection that there was a time allotted for me to die as well as to be born, I instantly cast off all my fear or thought of whatever of death and went through the whole of my duty with alacrity (74). This proves how deeply the Christian roots were inside of Equiano, and with it, the hope of one day being accepted as one of them – the English. Undoubtedly, his mentality was set towards his identity – for being accepted as a Christian, he also wanted to be part of the English people, and religion was just part of it. In the book it was being focused as how Equiano consequently to his kidnapping and living in England, thought of himself as a perfect fit to the English manners and culture, and for this he was willing to do anything to be one of them – he adopted their religion, language, thinking and even way of dressing.

Religion and Identity are correlated in this situation due to the events’ occurrence in the narrative, and how one thing leads to the other – he was then considered the Black Christian, the perfect example of a hybrid identity nickname. Equiano then leaves England and takes innumerous trips to the West Indies, the Arctic, Jamaica, all over Europe and to the American Colonies, specially, where he spent a lot of time. Even though his “heart was still fixed on London (89),” he kept praying and working in various places – until he found the solution of going back to his beloved country.

Being a free slave would be the pass to his happiness and return to England, and that is what he aims for the other half of the book – obtain his freedom by trading goods wherever he goes, and after a certain amount of trading and obtaining enough gold he would buy his freedom certificate from his master, which he did for approximately forty pounds. Now, the upshot of this search for freedom was the entrepreneurial spirit he built on his quest; how he had his own knowledge of trading; what goods each country or state liked; where he would achieve more profit, and how he could make money faster to then be free.

However, this freedom would be only earned if destined by God, as he believes, “I was from early years a predestinarian, I thought whatever fate had determined must ever come to pass, and therefore if ever it were my lot to be freed nothing could prevent me […] I therefore looked up with prayers anxiously to God for my liberty (74). ” Altogether, Equiano then became a free man after much trading in the American colonies, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe. That brought not only his physical freedom, but also his mental freedom towards a general thinking of liberty and equality to all men.

Christianity and his quest for independence (freedom of slavery for himself, and hope that one day Africans would not be enslaved anymore) were interconnected because the Christian values taught to him were an essential key to his argument against slavery, and how it goes against the human rights that every single man and woman deserve; and the European society were also the ones that imposed slavery to be a mistake; so, all his knowledge and education contributed for him to fight against slavery, in general and his own, by honest means.

He thought that slaves could be honest and more efficient “[…] by changing your conduct and treating your slaves as men every cause of fear would be banished. They would be faithful, honest, intelligent, and vigorous; and peace, prosperity, and happiness, would attend you (66). ” All things considered, Equiano found himself in the English culture and from there he became an activist towards abolition of slavery, and by achieving his own freedom he fought for equality in possible ways. In 1792, he married to an English woman, and became a solid member of the British community – a true Englishmen.

He considers himself one of them saying that he “[hopes] to have the satisfaction of seeing the renovation of liberty and justice resting on the British government, to vindicate the honour of our common nature (143). ” He, defines the conclusion to his own story as an accomplishment by pursuing his own happiness in London, and going through all he did to achieve it; he ended up having the life he wanted. He became a European thinker, inspired by Christian beliefs and modern day man logics – his slavery thoughts were of cruelty, and how it should be abolished.

Bringing a further reason to believe that the African country should become a high powered nation by its amount of natural resources and trading leverage; also, he believed in a way to evangelize Africa, and with this knowledge make slavery a common mistake among humans, for making it clear to all Europeans and nations in general the knowledge that making a Christian slave of another goes against the will of God – in a certain way, he was seeking a way to make all Africans part of the European culture by assimilating them into it, as much as he did – and with all that he would then make Africa a country with full potential of being part of the world trading and economical system; sadly, it never happened. One thing remains clear with Equiano’s thinking of slavery abolition, slavery became illegal and is nowadays a crime against humanity, for all we know “this traffic cannot be good […] which violates that first natural right of mankind, equality and independency (66),” and it shall remain like this as long as we know each other as rational human beings.

Cuttlefish And Intense Zebra Display

The cuttlefish, scientifically known as Sepia latimanus, is a fascinating organism that has successfully adapted to the marine environment. Despite being commonly referred to as fish, they actually belong to the mollusc family. They are classified under the order Sepia and the class Cephalopods, which also includes squid, octopuses, and nautiluses. The term “cuttle” is derived from their unique internal structure called the cuttlebone. Similar to other mollusks, the body of a cuttlefish consists of a mantle composed of calcium, giving it a resemblance to a jellyfish. These extraordinary creatures possess eight arms akin to octopuses and two tentacles.

Located between the two tentacles of the cuttlefish is its mouth. In addition, at the front of its face are eyes that resemble human eyes to some extent. While these eyes cannot perceive colors, they have an exceptional ability to change color in various ways, surpassing even that of a chameleon.

The skin of cuttlefish holds their most remarkable characteristic. It consists of three layers and contains up to 200 pigment cells per square millimeter called chromatophores. These creatures possess a first and deepest layer that serves as a white base for reflecting light, which complements the other layers.

The middle layer of specialized skin contains iridescent light reflecting cells that produce blue, red, green, orange, and pink colors. The outermost layer is made up of tiny pigment cells that create colors too small to be seen. These layers of specialized skin also possess small plates of the protein chitin, known as Iridophores, which reflect light. The camouflage of cuttlefish is remarkable in terms of both the speed with which they can change patterns and colors and its effectiveness in deceiving their diverse predators’ visual capabilities.

Cephalopods possess an impressive skill to alter the color and design of their skin, a capability that is influenced by visual stimuli. The skin of cuttlefish can exhibit 20–50 different chromatophore patterns, which serve purposes of concealment and interaction. What enables cuttlefish to rapidly adjust their body patterns is the direct neural connection between the chromatophore organs and the brain.

Due to its speed and variety, cuttlefish body patterning is considered the most advanced form of adaptive coloration in the animal kingdom. Although there is some understanding of cephalopod vision, little is known about the visual characteristics of a substrate that trigger adaptive coloration. Cuttlefish use three main body pattern types for camouflage: Uniform and Mottle patterns, which generally blend with the background, and Disruptive patterns, which primarily aim to conceal the animal’s outline (Mathger, 2008).

Background matching is a type of camouflage that involves the appearance of an object blending in with its background in terms of color, lightness, and pattern. It can either closely match one specific background type or show a general resemblance to multiple backgrounds. Disruptive camouflage, on the other hand, refers to markings that create false boundaries and edges, making it difficult to detect or recognize the true outline and shape of an object or part of it.

Cuttlefish use disruptive body coloration as their main camouflage tactic. This is achieved through their ability to rapidly change their coloration, which is guided by visual cues. Different visual backgrounds and videos are used to observe and grade the cuttlefish’s response to its surroundings by describing and evaluating its body pattern. The effectiveness of the cuttlefish’s disruptive patterning relies on the size, contrast, and density of light elements on a dark background. The research findings indicate that the Weber contrast of the light background elements, combined with the size of these elements, plays a significant role in determining the strength of the disruptive response (Mathger, 2008).

In addition, the strength of disruptive patterning decreases as the mean substrate intensity increases (while other factors remain constant). Surprisingly, the strength of disruptive patterning relies on the arrangement of clusters of small light elements, when the element size, Weber contrast, and mean substrate intensity are all kept consistent. This study emphasizes the interconnectedness of various attributes in natural microhabitats, which directly affect the camouflage pattern selection of cuttlefish (Mathger, 2008).

Cuttlefish have the ability to display countershading, a behavior where they make their undersides lighter than their topsides. This is because animals looking up would typically see a light originating from the sky above the ocean. This behavior is also referred to as self-shadow concealment as it helps negate the variations in directional light caused by the fish’s shadow. Interestingly, cuttlefish possess a reflex for countershading, which causes their upwards-facing sides to become darker even when they are disoriented (Mathger, 2008).

Another way cuttlefish use their color changing ability to stay hidden from predators is through disruptive coloration, which obscures their shape. Cuttlefish have dark patterning around their eyes, forming a dark bar that makes their eyes less noticeable (Mathger, 2008). Additionally, the light and dark elements of their coloration adjust the visibility of various parts of their body. This process, known as differential blending, allows certain parts to blend in more effectively with the background compared to others.

Research has shown that the camouflage skin of cuttlefish serves as a means of communication and survival. Despite being considered as non-social creatures, there is a likelihood that cuttlefish use communication to aid in aggressive or sexual interactions. The most extensively studied display is known as the Intense Zebra display, typically observed in sexually mature males during conflicts. Studies indicate that this pattern indicates genuine intention to fight, as winners of such encounters possess more distinct patterns compared to losers (Mathger, 2008).

The darkness of the “face” on a cuttlefish reveals its readiness to escalate a fight. While it may seem odd to signal a desire to withdraw while entering a conflict, the authors propose an explanation for this behavior. Signaling aggressive intentions without actually possessing them would be risky, as it could easily lead to a fight, resulting in injury and wasted energy.

However, choosing to not present the Intense Zebra Display has its own disadvantages. Males who are blind on one side cannot see approaching males on that side and therefore fail to adopt an Intense Zebra Display (Mathger, 2008). As a result, when this happens, the approaching male tries to mate, leading to fights and the release of ink. Therefore, it is necessary for cuttlefish to adopt the Intense Zebra display in order to signal their maleness, especially since they lack visually obvious sexual differences. Other data supports this conclusion, showing that the Intense Zebra Display appears when a male sees another male, and male cuttlefish exhibit more of the behaviors associated with this display towards other males than towards females. In summary, there is strong evidence indicating that the Intense Zebra Display is a means of communication among cuttlefish, utilizing their ability to change their appearance to signal maleness and aggressive intentions.

Marxist Literary Analysis

The term “metafiction” refers to fictional writing that deliberately calls attention to its nature as an artifact, aiming to explore the connection between fiction and reality. This concept is discussed by Patricia Waugh in her book Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction (1984). In Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried, the narrative focuses on the dynamic between fiction and the narrator. O’Brien, a Vietnam veteran, serves as both the protagonist recounting his war experiences and a writer analyzing the techniques employed in storytelling.

The novel juxtaposes these two aspects to create a literary work that comments on both the war and the art of storytelling. Through his writing about Vietnam, O’Brien’s character finds a way to process his emotions. He believes that storytelling allows him to detach from his experiences and uncover certain truths.

He sees his stories not as therapy but as a reflection of his past and an integral part of his identity. The war, which occurred many years ago when he was just 43, continues to shape him today. Remembering the war often leads to the creation of stories, which have a lasting impact. Stories serve to bridge the gap between the past and the future and provide comfort during late nights when one struggles to comprehend the journey from the past to the present. O’Brien’s character explores storytelling throughout the novel, particularly in “How to Tell a True War Story” section. Within these discussions, the narrator defends The Things They Carried’s purpose and offers hints about its content, structure, and interpretation. One crucial point made is that distinguishing what truly happened from what seemed to happen in war stories is challenging. The novel embraces this perspective by frequently introducing characters who have already perished or contradicting prior beliefs such as Norman Bowker’s suicide.

According to the author, a true war story is easily identified because it never seems to have an end, neither in the past nor in the present (76). None of the stories in this book provide complete closure, except for instances where a character dies. However, even in those cases, their death still has an impact on the lives of the survivors. The novel itself also lacks a definite and resolved ending. The most significant aspect is that, in a true war story, if there is a moral, it is intertwined with the story like a thread that cannot be separated. Extracting the meaning would unravel the deeper significance (77).

The deeper relationship expressed in The Things They Carried is the connection between stories, reality, and time. The narrator, O’Brien, reflects on the concept of time in the section “On the Rainy River,” questioning if the events of that summer occurred in another dimension and where life goes afterwards.

In this section, O’Brien has a profound moment during the lake scene where he sees important people from his past and future on the shore. He describes it as if there is an audience to his life. This scene demonstrates the ability of fiction to surpass the limitations of time, space, and even life and death. Our experiences shape us, and through storytelling, all those who have influenced the narrator’s life are united. As a collective group, they not only observe his life but also reflect the entirety of O’Brien’s existence.

O’Brien states that fiction has the ability to preserve life in the face of death. He explains that during warfare, they were able to keep the deceased alive through stories (239). For the living, stories served as a means to keep the memory of the dead alive, but for the deceased, it was the act of remembering that gave them life. O’Brien emphasizes that storytelling has the power to animate the bodies of the dead and make them speak (232). The story of Linda exemplifies this theme of preservation, as O’Brien uses storytelling and memory to maintain people’s existence: “Stories can save us.”

At the age of forty-three, I have become a writer. Despite this, my dreams still include Linda’s existence, even at present. Although they are all deceased, within storytelling – which can be seen as a type of dreaming – the deceased sometimes display signs of life, like smiling, sitting up, and returning to our world” (225). The main focus of this novel does not center around Vietnam; in fact, it is not about war at all. It revolves around the narrator’s search for a place unaffected by the passage of time. By unraveling the various elements woven throughout this novel, O’Brien’s intentions become clear: he aims to combat physical decay and preserve life by immortalizing it within fiction.

He writes not because of neurosis or therapy, but because he believes that immortality and preservation lie in the memories of people. If the true measure of life is how long we are remembered after we die, then preserving people’s memories through fiction is a way to keep life alive: I will never die. I am quickly moving across the surface of my own history, skating on the thin layer beneath the blades, doing loops and spins. And when I jump into the unknown and land thirty years later, I realize that I am Tim, trying to save Timmy’s life with a story (246). As O’Brien’s life is the culmination of his past relationships with everyone who has been a part of it – past, present, and future – keeping them alive does the same for him. To put it simply, O’Brien writes in order to survive, as through storytelling he can ensure the immortality of all those who were important in his life. It is through their immortality that he has the power to save himself with a simple story.

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