12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
2) Narrator: Author (Solomon Northup) Point of view: First person
3) Tone: determined Quote: After Solomon becomes a slave he gets some help from the others in which they say keep your head down if you want to survive with which he responds “I don’t want to survive. I want to live”(Northup 71). This shows his determination because even if he has yet to become a slave he is determined to make it so he controls his life even after all is said and done. This shows his determination when it comes to his life because he doesn’t just want to live by the necessities-he wants to thrive in every moment.
4) One of the major characters is Solomon Northup.
At first, he was hopeful not listening to anyone, even the other slaves who are just trying to help him, instead he decided to do everything his way, even if it put him in danger. He stays like this for most of the book until the end when he has completely given up on his freedom and accepts that he is a slave after the 10 years he had spent with Epp’s. His hopefulness is shown when he states “I sat in the corner, cherishing in my heart the hope, not yet extinct, of someday meeting the tyrant on the soil of my native State”(Northup ch.4) while he’s giving up his shown when he calls Mr.Epps “‘Master Epps,’ I answered”(Northup 353). This shows the changes to Solomons character because at the beginning of the book he wouldn’t have been willing to call any of his slave owners master without him being punished first. This change was thrust upon him after he had been in Mr.Epps care for the previous 10, or so, years of which he worked his life away. 5)
The primary theme for 12 Years a Slave is the immeasurable plain that society inflicts upon those discriminated. This is shown by the constant struggle for survival shown throughout the novel and the dehumanization that the slaves have suffered. All throughout, the novel for almost every character, especially those enslaved, there is a constant struggle for survival. The struggle for survival is shown when Solomon promises himself that he “will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy, till freedom is opportune!”(Northup ch. 7). This shows his struggle to survive because he, even after being beaten and abused, has not given up. Even Though, it is just him living with his pain and guilt he has not been broken he had not given up and decided that until he had what he wanted he would stay strong. The other theme shown was dehumanization of the slaves which is shown when Solomon voices his opinion after a fellow slave has been beaten of which the slaver responds with “Sin. There is not sin. A man does what he wants with his property”(Northup ch.18 )
This shows the dehumanization that Solomon and his fellow slaves had to have gone through because it shows how they were beaten within mere breaths of dying. Also, it goes on to not even call the person that was being beaten a human being instead they call them a piece of property that they own and can do anything with. 6) We first start out with hearing Northup retell his life as a free black man living in upstate New York. He was the son of an emancipated slave and was born July 1808. He grew up working on the farm with his father and was also educated to a degree where he could read and write. Later on, he was taught how to play the violin of which he would make his living off of but would eventually become a curse in which helped him become enslaved. At the age of 21, he married Anne Hampton and they decided to settle down and raise a family, they would have three children before Solomon would be enslaved. In 1841, two white men offered Solomon a lucrative amount of money if he would just travel with a circus with them to Washington, D.C.
After, leaving with them they drugged his food and he became terribly ill. While he was walking to go see the doctor he fell unconscious and when he awoke he was chained and in complete darkness. After a while, he found himself in the company of a well-known slave trader for being brutal named James H. Burch. When Solomon protests his captivity Burch beats him and threatens to kill him if he were to ever mention freedom again. From there, Solomon and all the other slaves are sent downriver eventually landing in New Orleans, Louisiana. While, there he comes into contact with Burch’s associate, Theophilus Freeman. Freeman decides to change Solomon’s name to “Platt”. Right before he is put up for sale he contracts smallpox, which nearly kills him. After he recovers he is then sold along with a girl named Eliza to a man named William Ford. While there Solomon meets his worst enemy, names John M. Tibeats. Tibeats constantly threatens and berates Solomon and when Solomon angers him Tibeats tries to whip him. But, instead Solomon whips Tibeat and from this Tibeat tries twice to kill him. Tibeat’s not being able to kill him decides to sell him to the notorious “nigger breaker,” Edwin Epps. After, he is sold he stays with Epps for the next 10 years with a whip being his only companion. The years pass by, and Solomon almost loses hope. Then, he meets a carpenter names Bass he learns of Solomon’s story and decides to help. He sends letters to Solomon’s friends in the North, asking them to come and rescue the slave from his captivity.
Thanks to Bass his friends up in the North go to set him free. They send the slave owner of Solomon’s father to gather all the legal documents that prove that Solomon is a free man. From there, he travels to Washington, D.C. to press charges on Burch but Burch gets away scot-free due to false witnesses and racial bias in the courtroom. After, that he finally heads home to find that his daughter is married and his grandson named in his honor.
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