12 Years a Slave is a book written by Solomon Northup who was born as a free black man in the North. He had a wife and three kids. One day two white men turn Solomon’s life around when they trick him into traveling with them to Washington D.C.. Here he gets taken by some slave sellers and is getting beat up until he claims that he isn’t a free man. After that you follow his journey through 12 years of slavery with several owners, until he finally gets the opportunity to send a letter home so he can finally get some people to prove that he is a free man.
The book is really descriptive and is hard to read because it´s dead honest about how the slaves got treated by their owners. You also get to hear about how different the owners were, and how differently each of them treated their slaves. Even though the book was a bit long and tedious to read at times, it is still an important read because you learn so much from it, and in some ways it can also change your look on the treatment of slaves and understanding the horrors of slavery.
12 Years a Slave is an autobiography about Solomon Northrup. His father was an emancipated slave and he grew up on a farm in New York. Unlike many other blacks at the time, Solomon was able to read and write. He could also play the violin. When he was 21 he got married to Anne Hampton. Anne and Solomon had 3 children which Anne took care of while Solomon worked. One day Solomon met two white men who told him that he could join the circus with them if he traveled to Washington DC. Solomon drank a lot of alcohol on the way to DC and ended up passing out. When he woke up he was alone in a dark room and chained up. Solomon had been taken by a tyrannical slave owner that went by the name of James Burch. Solomon tried to declare his freedom but got badly beaten for it. Then Solomon got shipped to Louisiana. Solomon got his name changed to Platt and eventually got sold to William Ford. “Platt” was a full on slave, but luckily his owner was relatively nice. Then because of financial trouble, Platt got sold to a man named John Tibeats. They hated each other and Platt was beaten a lot. Then one day when working on a project, Platt decides to whip his master, who in return tries to murder Platt but was unsuccessful. Then yet again, Platt was sold to Edwin Epps. Epps was terrible to his slaves, and whipped them almost every day. Epps continually raped and beat Platt’s friend Patsey. One day when Patsey went to get soap, she was accused of having sex with another man and Platt was forced to whip her. Then, Platt meets Bass, a carpenter from Canada that agrees to help him. Bass sends a letter from Solomon to people in the North, asking them to help set him free. Henry Northup found Platt in Louisiana and has the sheriff help him free Platt from Epps. Solomon went back to New York and tried to file charges against the people that kidnapped him, but all charges were dropped. He was finally reunited with his family and from then on lived a free life.
I think that this book was really good. It was very descriptive and gave me a look into the life of a slave. The book obviously shows the terrible things that went on in slavery, and even though it was one man’s story, it helped me understand slavery better as a whole. Hearing a personal story rather than generalizations really makes it seem more real, and triggers more emotion in the reader and that’s what this book did for me. It was very sad and depressing, but it’s also very inspirational and teaches you to never give up.
Before I had read this book, I had only watched the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” and read some books with information on kidnapped blacks. In the movie we don’t really get much of Solomon’s past and how his family came to be free in New York, but we do get a lot of his time of enslavement. I think the book gives you a better understanding of Solomon and his past before his bondage. In fact I think this book gives an incredible account of what being a slave was like. As I read this amazing, heartbreaking and touching story, I had many question and emotions flowing flowing through my mind, but these questions were the ones that I asked the most: “Does Edwin Epps ever deal with Justice?” “Did Solomon’s story have an effect on people, which later helped to fuel the American Civil War?” and “How close is the movie to the book?”
I think Solomon wrote his true story because the world needed to know what it was like to be a slave. At this time in history, people never saw the horrors of slavery. Most people growing up in the south say it as a way of life and that it was a good thing. I would recommend that everyone took the time to read this book, because they need to be humbled by Solomon’s story. I think it is a dark time in our history that needs to be remembered. The thing that makes Solomon’s story so amazing is that he made it back to freedom and never lost hope in the ideal of making it back home into the free north.
Mr. Edwin Epps is Solomon’s final and cruelest slave owner that he encounters. Epps, heavy, tall, with high cheekbones and blue eyes, owns a plantation that grows cotton and has lots of slaves, or as Epps calls them, “My property”. Epps is frequently drunk, he has fits of rage, violent mirth and enjoys the punishment of his slaves. Epps treats his dogs better than all of his slaves and he prides himself on being a “Nigger Breaker”. While on Epps plantation, Solomon meets Patsey, a 23 year-old slave who is beautiful and has never known freedom. Patsy is at the center of Epps rage and drunkenness and Mrs. Epps anger, because Epps take Patsy as his mistress and then later, strips her down naked and forces Solomon to whip her before he takes over and continues her brutal punishment.
After many years, Solomon meets a man named Bass, who is a builder from Canada. Bass is working on a project for Mr. Epps and Solomon is one of the slaves picked to work with Bass. After a while of talking, Bass and Solomon gain eachother’s trust. Solomon being smart tells Bass everything, about him being kidnaped and sold into slavery. Bass sends a letter to Solomon’s family and friends and is rescued shortly after. Solomon returns to his family after being a slave for twelve years.
Does Edwin Epps ever deal with Justice?
Unfortunately, the knowledge of Epps after Solomon is rescued is unknown. Myself and others, I’m sure would like to see something bad happen to him.
Did Solomon’s story have an effect on people, which later helped to fuel the American civil war?
Yes and no. Solomon Northup became an abolitionist during the civil war and supported the emancipation proclamation but, unlike Frederick Douglass, he was not as well known, therefore, not as big of an impact.
How close is the movie to the book?
The movie was close to the book, but left out some details about his life before becoming a slave.
Summary: Twelve Years a Slave is a novel written by Solomon Northup. Northup begins the book as a free black male living in New York. He was born free there in the North. He settled down with a wife and kids. However, after being tricked to go to Washington D.C., Northup was captured and sold into slavery. He then spent 12 years of his life as a slave in Louisiana, having numerous owners. One of his owners he even liked a little. After writing to family in New York, he was finally let free.
Evaluation: This book is very powerful and vivid surrounding the slave trading and conditions in Washington D.C. and Louisiana. I would not recommend this to anyone who finds it tough to read sad situations. Despite its depressing nature and horrific history, this book serves as a great educational tool to anyone learning about slavery. This firsthand account is very rare because many slaves didn’t have the education to write about their experiences. I highly recommend this book!
Rating: 4 stars
Recommendations: The Grapes of Wrath, Hunger Games series, and the Autobiography of Malcolm X.