The book “12 Years a Slave,” which was written in the year 1853, is a story that narrates the encounters of a black Citizen of New York, Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped in the City of Washington in 1841 and sold to work to work in a coffee plantation. Northup was later rescued in 1853. Solomon Northup was born as a free black man, enticed to the south, kidnapped, as well as sold into slavery. The narrative of “Twelve Years a Slave” is outstanding as a significant piece of literature relating to slavery because it was written from the standpoint of a free man, who was enslaved for twelve years. This paper reflects on the traumatic occurrences of Northup’s kidnapping, along with his dehumanizing as well as cruel treatment as a slave in coffee fields at the heart of Louisiana. “Twelve Years a slave, as a slave narrative, gives an insight into the effects of slavery to the society, and its cruelty to human beings, with the aim of enlightening all generations on its shortcomings on moral grounds.
“Twelve Years a Slave” is a slave narrative. Slave narratives are a distinctive literary tradition where previously enslaved people narrate their experiences as slaves, as well as what they went through for the period of their enslavement. In “Twelve Years a Slave,” the author states that “My aim is to provide an honest and truthful account of facts: to explain my life’s story, without any exaggeration…” Therefore, this shows that the account of this story is from actual experiences that the author had during his 12 years of slavery. The significance of slave narratives is to convert the audiences’ or readers’ hearts as well as minds to the basis of antislavery by means of revealing how slavery demoralized and misrepresented the major institutions on which the United States of America was founded upon, that is, representative democracy, capitalism, Christianity, as well as marriage and the family. The corrupting manipulation of slavery on both the marriage as well as the family unit is the principal theme in the story “Twelve Years a Slave.” When Northup says “I finally earned by freedom back,” this implies that slave narratives correspond to autobiographical descriptions of both the physical as well as spiritual journey of the African-American citizens from slavery to freedom.
“Twelve Years a Slave” is an astoundingly precise as well as verifiable story of the experience of a typical slave in the antebellum South. In this slave narrative, the narrator, Solomon Northup provides fundamental facts in relation to time, places, people, and the activities that took place. For instance, Northup state that “after having drinks with the two men, I found myself in the morning in total darkness as well as in chains.” This statement shows how the bitter truth of Northup’s reality dawned on him, therefore making the reader to pity him.” The authority in which he speaks with on all subjects relating to his enslavement dares doubters to disprove his account. For instance, when Solomon Northup makes accusations against the wicked trade in slavery, he provides all the details of where he was kept captive, “ I was locked up in a slave pen in.” This information from the story was necessary during the trial that took place following the release of Northup from slavery.
“Twelve Years a Slave” serves as a long-lived denunciation of the activities of “chattel slavery” or the enslavement of human beings. The detailing of the abuses that Solomon Northup was made to suffer, as well as those which he was forced to inflict on others. For instance, Northup asserts “I was forced to whip Patsey…” The act of being compelled to do this and many nasty things present a warning to every generation regarding the moral expenses that the practice of slavery exacts from all the people who are involved. First of all, there is a degradation of the person who is enslaved, as he or she was forced to endure a lot of suffering from dreadful torments, as well as maliciously robbed of this physical and emotional affluence. Through participation in the acts of slavery, the master to the slave(s) is morally disgraced as well as emotionally desensitized. The author states “the religion of the slave-owner is made of hypocrisy, and the legacy of his family is denied the fundamental human beauty such as love, impartiality, and integrity.” Therefore, Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave” is remarkable for representing to humanity a wickedness that was once an ordinary practice, as well as for sounding a steady warning of the unpleasant effects of chattel bondage.
“Twelve Years a Slave” is a demonstration to the influence of the human spirit as well as the lasting determination of hope. Solomon Northup was “tricked, kidnapped, mistreated, separated from my family, as well as stripped of my identity as a free person.” These things that Northup endured made him have even more hope as, for all this time, Northup is never broken. Even during his most terrible days of sorrow, living under the brutalities of Edwin Epps, Solomon Northup never renounces the hope that a day will come when he will be a free man again. In addition, he states, “I never lost faith on his friends,” relentlessly giving an assurance that if he can just send a word to the North, they will without a doubt come to rescue him from slavery. And they do not fail. The touching journey of Solomon Northup is inspiring because in his demonstration, there is proof that faith, as well as hope, can tolerate and conquer.
For women who were sold into slavery, bondage regularly consisted of an extra pain: rape. Rape is a predominant theme in many slave narratives. Northup describes the suffering of a fellow slave whose name was Patsey. He states, “My master would come at night and rape Patsey over and again.” The story euphemizes the assaults of Epps with traditionally acceptable expressions like “lewd intentions.” However, the repercussions are apparent. “If she said a word against the will of her master, the lash was made use of immediately so as to make her subject to him.” In the meantime, she was continuously assaulted by her mistress for the reason that she was “seducing” her master, Epps.
The most significant aspect of this narrative by Solomon Northup is its clarity in relation to the functioning of the “strange society” as a system. Northup writes that “chattel slavery brutalized both the master and the slave alike.” Therefore, this explains why slave owners acted so monstrously, even in opposition to their greatest financial interest. To them, “a dead slave was a loss in investment.” Being encircled by atrocious human suffering on a day to day basis, the owners of slaves became inured as well as desensitized to it. In addition, Northup asserts “the cruelty of the slave-owners is not their fault, but it is a system under which they live that is to be blamed.” The author also consistently maintains that not all the slave-masters were wicked by defending slave-owners such as William Ford. These people were not innately immoral, but rather, “it is the manipulation of the unjust system that needlessly cultivates an unfeeling as well as cruel spirit.”
In the pursuit for justice by Solomon Northup through his lawyer, the defense that was provided by the slave-traders comes as a surprise to the reader of this book. They falsely testified “I had on my free will consented to sell myself into slavery.” They claimed to have engaged in a scam plot with Northup that they would sell him into slavery, and then later secure his free papers so as to share the proceeds from the sale with him. However, according to him, “during that time, black people were not allowed to give testimonies in the court.” Therefore, Northup’s testimony was never heard. This represents a deliberate injustice in his quest to bring his captor to justice, leading to a significant protest by many people.
In conclusion, Northup concludes his story by asserting “I do not have comments regarding the issue of slavery.” By so doing, he presents the readers with the “freedom” of forming their personal judgment regarding the subject of slavery. The story provides the society with a vice that undermined the rights of other human beings for a long period, and which should never be repeated.