Subjugated into slavery at the age of thirty. Northup was lured to travel to Washington, D. C. in 1841 with the false promise of gaining easy employment, quick money, and adventurous trips. He was offered money that was three times more than his monthly income and because his wife and children had gone to another town for three weeks, he felt it would be more productive to work in this time period, rather than sitting ideal and waiting for the return of his family.
But little did Northup knew that he was brought to another state so that he could be sold, like an object, in slavery. In his narrative, Northup stated that he was drugged by his companions, beaten ruthlessly by his kidnapper, and sold into slavery within sight of the nation’s capital. When ex-slaves wrote their own narratives, free from any bondage, even then many of them strived to achieve freedom of expression in its entirety. Slave narrators, ex-slaves, struggled to acquire their narrative authority and to achieve sole authorship over their works of literature.
This was because the Whites still has editorial control over their works and hence they’d put lot of restritions over any written content that came from an ex-slave. The White Editors felt that literature produced by ex-slaves were not well developed and structured and so they would provide many guidelines infront of the slave narrators in order to make their text ‘readable’. Solomon Northup’s encounter with slavery became the national news after his rescue in 1853 from a cotton plantation named the Epps Fields in Louisiana.
Northup’s book was supported and fostered by slavery-abolitionist leaders namely- Frederick Douglass,William Lloyd Garrison , and Harriet Beecher Stowe. It,therefore, became one of the best-seller, going through half a dozen printings. Solomon Northup’s slave narrative is of the length of three hundred and thirty pages and therefore it is one of the longest slave narratives that was ever written. Northup loaded his slave account with many specific details and facts so that he could Kaur07 reprimand the critics who would have called his work as a matter of fictitious fabrication.
Northup avoided to follow the path of slave authors that came before him and didn’t suspend himself to generalize the injustices that happended to him in those tweleve years. Northup even refused to use pseudonyms because he felt that nothing but the complete reality and truth should come infront of the readers. He cited the real names of every character in the slave narrative, the actual places where he had to go to in order to survive and the dates of the events so that the readers could identify those who did wrong to him and his companions and bring his captors to trial.
Horrid and Violent Injustices suffered by Solomon Northup Twelve Years A Slave is one of the most authentic descriptions of slavery from the viewpoint of the slave himself. Twelve Years A Slave, by Solomon Northup. The central theme of Solomon Northup’s narrative is the Bravery that is shown by Northup. He had underwent severe changes in his life in these tweleve years of slavery and still he continued to survive and strive for his freedom. He didn’t let go of his true identity and adopted the identity of “Platt”.
Also extreme ruthlessness and violence is shown in Northup’s narrative through the constant beatings, lashings and other punishments. His masters even attempted to kill him while he was a slave. Solomon Northup, when he was first kidnapped, he was stripped naked and nailed to the floor. Northup suffered with lashings after lashings and his enslavers would only pause to catch their breath. They beat him down to accept his new identity and his new status of being a slave. Few Kaur08 episodes were so violent and brutal that Northup could still feel the pain of those beatings while he was writing his narrative.
Such episodes were filled with sadism, inhumanity and cruelty, and it left a traumatizing effect on Northup both physically and psychologically. The second major theme in Tweleve Years A Slave is the continous and relentless struggle of the plantation work. In Northup’s narration of the life of bondsmen at the plantation fields represents the utmost exhaustion, fear and horrors that each slave suffered with both physically and psychologically. Solomon Northup also depicted the experiences women under slavery whom he met during his time as a slave.
He elaborated on the experiences of Patsey, a twenty-three year-old slave who was the sufferer of a lecherous master and an envious and insecure mistress. Pasey was caught between her mistress’s spiteful wrath and the sexual abuse from her Master Epps. Patsey, inspite of being the best laborer for her master, still suffered from fear of physical harm which ultimately led to mental trauma too as she asked Northup to kill her so that she could be free from the life of bondage. Although Patsey was a devoted slave who worked for her master’s profit, she became the feeble victim of her master’s sexual desires.
Patsey’s mistress took her bitterness out on her instead of blaming her husband. Patsey was abused twice the times of male slaves. She has to suffer with the sexual torments of her master and physical harm from her mistress. Through Patsey, it is represented how bondswomen suffer more than bondsmen because they were doubly marginalized. The sexual exploitation of bondswomen was considered to be normal which reflects upon the objectification of black women in America in the mid-17th century.
Not only did bondswomen suffered from physical ill treatment but they also had to endure the pain of seperation from their children. When Northup was taken to the auction block, he saw how mother and children were seperated. Mothers cried for their children but the sellers of the slaves had the sentimentality that extended only to the length of the coins. Young girls were sold to no one but they were kept by the sellers who would groom them into prostitution. This was shown through the character of Eliza and her children.
By writing about the abuse through which the black women suffered with, be it sexual terror, physiological torment, and the separation of families, Northup’s narrative was able to awaken sympathetic antislavery feeling in the Northern states in the decades before the Civil War by exposing the horrors upon its innocent victims. Conclusion Solomon Northup’s slave narrative open’s the eyes of his audience about the horrid experiences and injustices suffered by the Blacks just because of their skin colour. Americans forgot that God created everyone and gave them different colours that doesn’t mean
Kaur10 that God wanted the Whites to discriminate and humiliate human beings of different skin colour. All human beings have equal right to live and not just survive. Steve McQueen, the director of the movie, 12 Years a Slave (2013), represented the words written in Northup’s narrative visually. The movie won seven oscars in 2014. Critics reviewed this movie- “There’s no question that this is one of the most searingly intense portraits of slavery ever committed to film, and that it exercises the brutality seen onscreen to bludgeon slavery’s grim, cruel and conscience-less degradation.
It’s certainly worthy of the critical plaudits it’s receiving”. Steve McQueen said in his winning speech at the Academy Awards (2014) for winning the award of ‘Best Picture’ that ” Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup”. He dedicated the award to all those who have suffered with slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.