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The Analisys of 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

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Words: 1510 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 1510|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

One main character is Solomon Northup his perspective on life changes when loses hope on gaining his freedom and seeing his family, when in the beginning he was determined that he would see his family. But Northup explains that “hope died within my heart. Surely my time had come. I should never behold the light another day-never behold the faces of my children-the sweet anticipation I had cherished with such fondness. I should that hour struggle through the fearful agonies of death! None would mourn for me-none revenge me”. Northup comes to a realize that anything that happens to him won’t affect anyone because all the slaves he knows don’t know that he’s a freeman and to him they are strangers. As far as he knows his family doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead.

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One example of theme in 12 Years A Slave is that one can find peace and happiness with music like how Solomon finds comfort when playing his violin. In the beginning, Solomon talks about how his violin was “an amusement which was the ruling passion of my youth…affording pleasure to the simple beings with whom my lot was cast, and beguiling my own thoughts… from the painful contemplation of my fate”. Solomon uses his violin to escape his life and his problems. Later, when Solomon is hired to play, during his slave period, he explains that if it wasn’t for his violin he wouldn’t have been able to “endured the long years of bondage… It was my companion-the friend of my bosom-triumphing loudly when I was joyful, and uttering its soft, melodious consolations when I was sad”. When Solomon would play the violin during Christmas dinners he describe that it was his only source of comfort and it would give him a sense of being at home since he would play when he was a freeman. Also, giving him a distraction because it would take away all the trouble and fears he dealt with since becoming a slave.

Solomon Northup is a freeman from the northern states with his wife, Anne, and three children, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonso. He is well-known violinist that led him to get kidnapped by two men by the name of Merrill Brown and Abram Hamilton who tricked him into traveling due to his violin skills. As they travelled, Brown and Hamilton suggest that Solomon get his free papers and he does, then they go to a bar where Solomon becomes sick and only remembers going to his room and having people enter, but later loses consciousness. Solomon wakes up being chained up and not having possession of his free papers, then he encounters two slave dealers, James Burch and Ebenezer Radburn, who cruelly whip him because he claims that he is a freeman and threaten to kill him if he talks about his freedom. After a few weeks, Solomon is forced to go on a boat to be examine to see if they are well to be sold. On his way back, Solomon meets two slaves named Arthur and Robert who like him are freeman taken as slaves. Then slave traders come aboard and start taking slaves and Solomon is called Platt. Theophilus Freeman, a slave dealer, prepares his slaves so they can be sold, and buyers arrive and examine the slaves. Where Eliza, a slave and mother of two children, watches one of her children being taken away from her and is heartbroken but a buyer named William Ford buys Solomon and Eliza but he can’t buy Eliza’s daughter because Freeman wants to wait until she’s older because she’ll be worth more. Solomon describes Ford as a man who treats his slaves with kindness. Until Solomon meets John Tibeats who is ruthless man and cruel to slaves. Later Ford decides to sell Solomon to Tibeats because he can’t pay him leading him to work extreme labor and often getting whipped. One day, Tibeats lashes out at Solomon because doesn’t have the right nails and commands Solomon to take off his clothes to whip him, but refuses. Tibeats is about to whip him but Solomon tackles him and whips him instead. Then Chapin appears due to Tibeats screams and leaves and Chapin tells Solomon not to run away because it will turn out worse. Tibeats does return with two men who take Solomon and tie him up, but Chapin comes out with a gun and says that Ford still has loan on him and demands a slave to go tell Ford that Tibeats is trying to kill Platt. When Ford returns, he frees Solomon and tells him he must beware of Tibeats who wants to punish him. But once in Tibeats possession, he attacks Solomon with a hatchet and Solomon gets a hold of the hatchet but instead of killing Tibeats, he runs away. Solomon reaches a swamp to get rid of his scent from the dogs and is on the run, he heads to Ford’s house where he was protected and taken care of. Then Ford and Solomon encounter Tibeats, where the Ford demands Tibeats to sell Solomon and he does sent him to work for Eldert but was later bought by Edwin Epps. Epps harvests cotton and when sober punishes slaves when he thinks they need to be punished but when drunk he enjoys whipping for fun. Epps can be brutal towards slaves, but he is most brutal to a slave named Patsey who he often rapes, and Mistress Epps enjoys seeing Patsey being whipped because she blames her for her husband’s infidelity. Epps sends Solomon to work on harvesting sugar and is hired to play the violin on Christmas dinners. Then Epps hires Solomon to be a driver where he whips slaves, but Solomon learns how to whip the slaves without causing pain. Nine years into slavery, Solomon has a been keeping a letter that could help him escape and a man named Armsby arrives; and Solomon tries to get to know and asks if he could take the letter and send it. Armsby accepts and says he won’t tell anyone but then Epps goes into Solomon’s quarters and asks him if he was the one who wrote the letter. Solomon denies it and claims that Armsby has been trying to be hired by Epps and he’s lyin. Epps believes him and leaves, and after he leaves Solomon burns the letter. Later, Solomon encounters Patsey being whipped because Epps became jealous when she went to talk to a friend. Epps stripped Patsey, tied her up, and ordered Solomon to whip her but he stops after multiple whips, but Epps extremely and brutally whips Patsey. Later a man named Bass, who is against the act of slavery, is hired to help with construction work and Solomon is sent to help. Since always working together Bass and Solomon are getting close and Solomon tells him that he’s a freeman and Bass wanting to know more plans to meet at night and talk about his life before he was a slave and how he’s been planning to escape. Bass promises to help Solomon and send letters to his close acquaintances. Bass tells Solomon that he’ll return by Christmas time and when he does, nothing has arrived and Solomon becomes desperate, but Bass will not stop sending letters until he gets a reply. Although, in the North, Bass’s letters did get to Anne who passed them to Henry B. Northup, who spends a few months proving that Solomon is a freeman. Henry Northup goes to Louisiana where he teamed up with a lawyer, John Waddill, and they try to find Bass since he was the one who sent the letter. When they do find him, Bass tells them that Solomon goes by the name Platt, and that he’s a slave at the Epps plantation. With this information they go to the sheriff’s office and head to the plantation. Solomon sees a carriage pull up to the plantation and a sheriff asks where a slave named Platt is and Solomon stands up knowing that he’s being rescued. Epps becomes furious at whoever sent the letter but he can’t do anything to keep Solomon as a slave. As a free man, Solomon leaves and heads to the police to make a statement against Burch for selling a free man to slavery but he is declared innocent since he was able to testify and Solomon was not. Solomon went to his family home and reunited with his family, something that he has been longing for twelve years.

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Solomon Northup explains that the slaves are “daily witnesses of human suffering-listening to the agonizing screeches of the slave-beholding him writhing beneath the merciless lash-bitten and torn by dogs-dying without attention, and buried without shroud or coffin…”. The quote demonstrates a cruel tone because Northup explains the sufferings the slaves had to go through, and especially how cruel is for the slave masters to punish the slaves in the most brutal ways. The slaves aren’t treated like human beings they are more treated like animals due to their skin color.

Works Cited

  1. Eakin, E. (2007). Solomon Northup's Odyssey: Twelve Years a Slave and the Cultural Memory of Slavery. Southern Quarterly, 45(3), 12-35.
  2. Gikandi, S. (2014). Slavery and the Culture of Taste. Princeton University Press.
  3. Hodge, A. T. (2014). Twelve Years a Slave and the Endurance of the Slave Narrative Tradition. The Southern Literary Journal, 47(1), 23-42.
  4. Katz, W. L. (2013). Twelve Years a Slave and the Ordeal of Race in American History. The Journal of Negro History, 98(4), 451-466.
  5. McQueen, S. (Director). (2013). 12 Years a Slave [Film]. Regency Enterprises.
  6. Northup, S. (1853). Twelve Years a Slave. Derby and Miller.
  7. O'Meally, R. G. (2014). "Solomon Northup, Steve McQueen, and the Endurance of 12 Years a Slave." Callaloo, 37(2), 349-354.
  8. Pittman, L. (2017). Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave: A Deconstruction of Slavery Narrative Conventions. Mississippi Quarterly, 70(2), 277-296.
  9. Rawson, C. (2013). Solomon Northup's 12 Years a Slave and the Slave Narrative Genre. History Workshop Journal, 76(1), 303-324.
  10. Rothman, J. (2013). Solomon Northup's Odyssey. The Hudson Review, 66(3), 429-442.
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The Analisys of 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-analisys-of-12-years-a-slave-by-solomon-northup/
“The Analisys of 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-analisys-of-12-years-a-slave-by-solomon-northup/
The Analisys of 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-analisys-of-12-years-a-slave-by-solomon-northup/> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
The Analisys of 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-analisys-of-12-years-a-slave-by-solomon-northup/
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