“How comes it that all the white men on board who can read and write, and observe the sun, and know all things, yet swear, lie, and get drunk, only excepting yourself?”(188). This passage while a rational question to ask, implicitly exposes the contradiction and hypocrisy that an Indian chief’s son witnesses and points out to Equiano amidst the Englishmen. The young man, though seen as a “poor heathen” -as described in Equiano’s words, appears not be fooled by the fog of Christian rhetoric that they use to control natives and slaves.The young man’s clear point of view is, essentially illustrated, within Robert Cruickshank’s anti-abolitionist cartoon.
Being that Equiano had tried to Christianize the young man, even to refer to the English author John Fox’s work Book of Martyrs, the young man became extremely confused with was being preached to him versus the corruption that was being displayed before his eyes. Cruickshank’s cartoon is, too, confusing and hypocritical. The red herrings found within that cartoon were cleverly placed there as propaganda to deter people from seeing the ugly truth about slavery -to continue to nurture the ignorance that caused people to go with the status quo of pro-slavery, in the first place.
The biggest conflict and contradiction is Equiano’s sense of allegiance in believing he must help the young man’s disbelief of Christianity. Just like Cruickshank has attempted to persuade the people from not believing that slavery is even happening, Equiano is doing the same toward the young man’s state of mind about corruption in religion.
While Cruickshank’s behavior cannot be excused, the conclusion to his way of thinking can only be sheer ignorance. Equiano’s, on the other hand, is reprehensible as he knows first hand the experience of being enslaved, as well, the act of his cries going unheard -or worse, ignored.
Cruickshank has skewed the focus on the lens for the audience who he knew he could bamboozle, and Equiano tried to do same with the young man, but failed. Still, it did not affect Equiano much as he carried on with more undertakings and more missions, all while taking on his own slaves to help build plantations he’d come to own. Thus, there is not much of a difference between the lies that are placed in the cartoon to the lies Equiano lived.
-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez