Solomon Northrup’s book “Twelve Years a Slave”

Slavery-Twelve Years a Slave

Across the world, slavery is one of the contemporary issues that have significantly affected many people and spans across many cultures, nationalities, and religions. Solomon Northrup’s book “Twelve Years a Slave” rotates around his life story after being kidnapped and forced to work as a slave. The book portrays different themes, such as the theme of racism, sexism, economic structure, and neglect. It is based on the true story of Solomon’s own life in the hand of the white and the harsh treatment he had to undergo for twelve years, serving as a slave. The book, though, dates back into many years it remains relevant even in the modern world as it reveals the challenges slaves had to undergo in the hand of the whites. By looking at the treatment slaves went through, it is evident that black Americans were discriminated against, thus being taken into slavery. Slavery played a significant role in the establishment of American history. It brings to light the hardships, cruelty, and unfair treatment of the slave by the tormentors. The paper aims to examine the moral cancer of slavery and freedom injustices associated with slavery.

The story opens with a warning from Solomon that the tale may not be “uninteresting to the public.” Throughout the book, he reveals the devastating account of his life as a slave and the miserable life he leads in the hand of his tormentors. Solomon focuses on his ten years of slavery under the tranny of Edwin Epps, who was a cruel master. He was mistreated and forced to work under deplorable conditions. Despite going through physical assault, Solomon never gave and believed one day he would become a winner. Solomon says, “Still, he plied the lash without stint upon my poor body until it seemed that the lacerated flesh was stripped from my bones at every stroke. A man with a particle of mercy in his soul would not have beaten even a dog so cruelly” (Northup,pg.17). His master never cared about Solomon heath but could always whip him no matter the pain he was enduring. Solomon provides substantial evidence of the wrath slaves were going through at the time.

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For many years the southern people held believe that slavery was an important institution that helped in the civilization of those who were held captive. However, Solomon’s narrative brings to light the negative side of slavery as slaves were subjected to harsh treatment. Solomon unfolds his story and experience as a slave by sharing his fears, frustration, and heartache that he had to undergo after being separated from the loved ones (Eakin, pg.21). The author also depicts the challenges, although the whites believed that slavery was right as it helped in the civilization of slaves. Slaves were subjected to severe punishment that included whipping and imprisonment and even death for most slaves.

Challenges faced by the slaves

The book presents a startlingly accurate account of the challenges slaves endured in the United States during the antebellum period. Solomon was born a free man, but life turned against him after being blackmailed by his hijackers who sold him into the slave.Although he grew up hearing about the challenges slaves used to undergo, this could later catch up with him. Northup shades light to treatment slaves went through before being sold to their masters, as they were supposed to undergo a physical examination to impress potential buyers. He also depicts how slaves were organized before being sold, he says, the men were arranged on one side of the room, the women on the other. The tallest was placed at the head of the row, then the next tallest, and so on in the order of their respective heights” (Northup, pg.35).

He narrates vividly the challenges his fellow slaves used to undergo, creating mixed reactions. He points out on agony of one woman named Eliza, who was mistreated. Solomon confronted his masters, ‘‘I will not go without her. They shall not take her from me,’ she fairly shrieked, her shrieks comingling with the loud and angry voice of Freeman commanding her to be silent” (Northup,pg.39).The theme of racism throughout the novel depicting the challenges backs had to undergo. Solomon is not given a chance although he was educated than most of the people, he was looked down upon because he was black. The whole tale of slavery is based on racism, and the problems salves were subjected to in the hands of the whites.

The twelve years of a slave is a significant testimony to the power of human spirit and endurance of suffering g by determination of hope. Although Solomon Northup was deceived, kidnapped, and abused, he was not broken or gave up in life. The book twelve years of a slave was written at a time when slavery was a major controversial issue facing the blacks. Solomon was deceived and later kidnapped, thus being subjected to bondage and beaten with unjustified submission. Despite going through all this, Solomon was never broken and believed one day; he will attain his freedom. However, Solomon went through the heartbreaking experience, and he never gave up until he gained his independence for slavery even at a time when everything seemed to have gone.

Arguably the theme of sexism is depicted throughout the novel and affected blackAmerican women for many years. The whites felt they were superior, so they had toacquire a cheap source of labor, and blacks were seen as an affordable source of labor. During the slavery era, black women were subjected to severe treatment, and they were seen as of lower-class, thus being depicted as “whores.” The white women were if high class and seen a saint (Eakin, pg.20). Their masters raped African women, and it was seen as promiscuous. In the novel, Miss Epps mistreats patsey, although it was the fault of her husband, thus forcing her to succumb to her husband’s actions.  Sex was used as a tool to gain freedom, and it is depicted in the novel when Mr.Shaw’s wife took this opportunity to break chains of slavery.

In conclusion, the novel, the twelve years of slaves, depicts the challenges slaves were subjected to by their masters. It brings to different light themes such as racism, sexism, and neglect, which is portrayed by the unfair treatment black people went through in the hand of whites. Although slavery was seen as a means of civilization for the slaves by the whites, it had adverse impacts on their lives as many of them lost their lives. Most slaves like Solomon had the worst experience in the way their tormentors handled them. The black was taken into slaves to provide labor to the south, although neglect of the blackAmerican is known to be the significant contributing factor to slavery.

Works cited

Eakin, Sue L. Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave: 1841-1853. Pelican Publishing, 1998.

Northup, Solomon. “Twelve Years a Slave. 1853.” Ed. Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. Baton      Rouge: Louisiana State UP (1968).

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