The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano
A gripping adaptation of one of the first known slave narratives, Equiano tells of the 11 years he spent in slavery in England, the United States, and the West Indies, until he was able to buy his freedom.
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This introduction is written by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a renowned professor at Harvard University, where he directs a center for African and African American Research. Dr. Gates has ancestors who hailed from a region close to Olaudah Equiano's birthplace. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
According to this prologue, why does Olaudah write his life story?
At the end of this book, there are several photographs and drawings which will give you a visual idea of important details. Below is a map of contemporary Africa with some detail of Benin. (This annotation contains an image)
Olaudah Equiano's autobiography was originally published in 1789. The account that you are reading has been modernized and edited for younger audiences. (This annotation contains an image)
In these early pages, we learn about Olaudah's childhood. Which of the following aspects have we not heard about yet?
How did your family choose your name? What do you think is the significance of names?
As you read some of the upcoming chapters, you will be asked to provide evidence for your opinions. Watch the following video to learn more about text-based evidence. (This annotation contains a video)
It is quite possible that the narrator is talking about the Himba people, who make a cosmetic mixture to protect themselves from insects and the harsh cilmate. Below is a photo of a Himba woman. (This annotation contains an image)
Before reading this book, were you aware of black Africans buying and selling slaves themselves? How can you learn more about the history of this practice?
I Plan to Run Away
By making inferences, you can learn more about Olaudah's story than what he writes explicitly. The following video will give you some guidance in this area. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Olaudah decide to run away?
I Meet My Sister
What can we infer from the highlighted text?
At this point in the story, what can we infer about what happens to families under slavery?
Tinnah. The Scarred People
This chapter title refers to a practice known as scarification. Popular in parts of Africa, this practice involves creating a permanent scar on the body through cutting or branding. It is generally done for religious or cultural reasons. (This annotation contains an image)
If a visitor from a remote place came to the United States, what might he or she see that could be akin to ornamental scarring?
The Slave Ship
Known as The Middle Passage, the journey during which millions of Africans were brought to the New World against their will was treacherous and difficult beyond imagination. Millions died from hunger, thirst, disease and beatings. (This annotation contains an image)
Which is the best explanation for the author believing that magic is at work regarding the ships?
Invented by Ptolemy in the first century, the quadrant is used to measure angles and help determine the ship's latitude. Below is an image to help you picture it in use. (This annotation contains an image)
Barbados. The Auction
Throughout this book, we have learned of the impact slavery has on family life. Can you think of two or three answers to the highlighted question?
The iron muzzle and other punishment devices appear in a photograph at the back of this book. It is hard for us to imagine what this must have felt like.
Can you think of two or three reasons why some white people treat Olaudah well, and others treat him poorly?
Grampus is a name for the orca whale, which inhabits all oceans. Below is a photo, to help you see why Olaudah fears its powers. (This annotation contains an image)
What role does Olaudah's belief system play in how he interprets different events in this chapter? Find two examples.
Which of the following is an English custom that makes Olaudah uncomfortable?
When people are treated terribly, it is very common for them to feel badly about themselves. It seems that Olaudah believes that black skin is inferior to white skin because of the abuse he has suffered.
The Kidnapped Prince - Quiz 1
What is the main reason tht Olaudah is so happy on the Roebuck?
Some of the chapters have a lot of details, and some are more important than others. The following video, about choosing what goes into a summary, will help you think about what to focus on remembering as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Olaudah's use of "we" and "us" and "our" suggest?
The dictionary feature does not include every expression you may stumble across in this book. Use the nautical dictionary to which we have linked to look up "wear ship." (This annotation contains a link)
Adventures at Sea
How does being baptized mark a turning point in Olaudah's life?
Olaudah's Christian education and growing belief system is reflected in the highlighted sentence, which is a paraphrase from the Bible: "A time to be borne, and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2).
Olaudah uses figurative language twice in the highlighted sentence. For an appreciation of many different types of figurative language, watch the following video, and then pay attention to subsequent examples in the book. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the importance of telling the story about the horse?
'Huzzah" is an example of a word that originated long ago, disappeared from popularity, and has come back into usage. Have you heard it used? Do you know what it means or can you guess from its context?
What does the betrayal by Olaudah's master suggest about white kindness under slavery?
What does this betrayal suggest about the nature of slavery?
Hopes of Rescue
Read the paragraph with the highlighted sentence, and choose which answer best restates the idea expressed.
Despite constant threats of brutal treatment, Olaudah and his peers manage to be good to one another. Sending him oranges is one way they show their solidarity with him.
Land of Bondage
Why doesn't Captain Doran want to take Olaudah to England?
Being a Quaker, Mr. King is likely to treat his slaves better. While Quakers were active slave-traders at one time, by the time Olaudah arrives to the Americas, Quakers had become mostly opposed to slavery.
What kind of information does Olaudah use in this chapter to show why owners benefit from slavery?
What I Witnessed
As this chapter name suggests, here Olaudah provides many examples of the horrors he witnesses firsthand. For some important facts and figures to complement his story, check out the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Watch this reenactment of Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech "Ain't I a Woman" and answer the question below. (This annotation contains a video)
Olaudah imagines an appeal to slave-owners. How do his ideas compare to those epxressed by Sojourner Truth in her famous speech, "Ain't I A Woman"?
A Glass Tumbler
Olaudah stops at many islands during this period of his life. Below is a map which shows us the location of many of these islands. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is an example of Olaudah's persistence in this chapter?
The Horror of the West Indies
Remember what you've learned about figurative language? What makes the highlighted text poetic and effective? Does Olaudah use a type of figurative language here?
Can you retell, in your own words, the story about Joseph Clipson? Write a summary of five sentences.
Navigation. Chances for Escape
Despite long days of hard work without enough food, Olaudah and many other slaves seize every opportunity to learn and better themselves.
The Kidnapped Prince - Quiz 2
Despair and Joy
What do we learn about Olaudah from the conversations he reports?
Given what we have learned so far about Olaudah individually, and slavery in general, what do you anticipate reading about in the remaining chapters of this book?
The Wise Woman
Which of the following does the fortune-teller not predict?
Boxes Within Boxes
In an earlier chapter, we learned about Mr. King, a kind slave-master, being a Quaker. Quakers pride themselves on being peaceful, nonviolent people. To learn more about the Quakers, follow the link provided below. (This annotation contains a link)
Use the dictionary feature to help you decide which of the following is the best synonym of "chagrin" as it is used in the highlighted sentence.
Olaudah speaks frequently about his behavior being influenced by Christian beliefs and values. Do you think that his decision to leave the dead man without a burial reflects those values?
While Africans made music and dance while still enslaved, freedom dances were likely to be more celebratory. Below is an artistic rendition of people dancing. (This annotation contains an image)
What do you think of Olaudah's loyalty to Mr. King? In addition to being loyal, what else might contribute to his decision?
Do you think that the relationship between Olaudah and Captain Farmer is typical? Write two reasons to support your opinion.
I Lose My Friend and Win a New Title
Given the title of this chapter, and what we already know, which seems to be a likely possibility?
The highlighted text is an example of figurative language. What does it mean, and why do you think Olaudah expresses it this way?
What does this highlighted paragraph suggest about Olaudah and the new captain?
What does this suggest about the differences between the white crew members and the African ones?
Which of the following is the most likely reason that so many people hold superstitions?
A New Life
Mr. King recommends that Olaudah stay in the West Indies so he can have his own slaves. Do you think Olaudah wants to have slaves? What have you read that influences your thinking?
The Kidnapped Prince - Quiz 3
Why is Olaudah reluctant to take former slaves back to Africa?