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Though it is not at the forefront of Northup's narrative, religion plays a crutial role in his story. Northup uses religion to emphasize which characters are "good," and which are "bad."
For example, Tibeats and Epp both swear profusely and use God's name in vain, emphasizing their poor character. Contrastly, Ford never takes God's name in vain, and is depicted as a devout worshiper of God. Ford even holds sermons, and invites his slaves to participate in sharing the word of God. In 1853, when this book was published, these characteristics would have stood out.
Furthermore, Northup portrays himself as a religious person on multiple occasions. For example, after surviving fleeing through a snake-infested forest, Northup credits God for his survival.
Misogyny (and the resulting sexual abuse) is a vital piece of Northup's commentary on slavery. In his initial introduction of Patsey, Northup describes how as "The enslaved victim of lust and hate, Patsey had no comfort of her life" (135). As a female slave, Patsey was forced to succumb to Epp's sexual violence and physical violence. She not only belonged to him as a means of picking cotton, but sexual gratification as well.
Epp was therefore possessive of her in two ways: as the best cotton picker on his farm, and as a body he could claim. This inspired the jealousy that leads to the violence Patsey is victim to near the end of the novel, wherein Epp whips her until she is unconscious after she went to their neighbor's house for soap. A male slave would not have been subjected to this, and Northup recognizes this in his narrative: "If ever there was a broken heart — one crushed and blighted by the rude grasp of suffering and misfortune — it was Patsey's" (188).
Identity, in a way, drives Northup's narrative. At the beginning of the narrative, prior to his enslavement, Northup's identity is one of an affluent, well-liked, and talented violinist. Not only that, but his identity is one of a free man.
Following his enslavement, however, his identity is stripped away — he is no longer "Solomon," instead, he is "Platt." His identity is now that of a slave: when he insists that he is free, he is beaten until he stops insisting. He is no longer allowed to move through the world however he likes, instead being forced to yield to what white people expect of him.
His identity — at least outwardly — is forced to completely change. Internally, however, Northup remembers his past identity, which inspires him to survive.
Essay on Twelve Years a Slave
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Whites have long argued that slavery was good for slaves because it civilized them and that slaves were content to be held in bondage. But such is not the case, at least not according to those who were actually held in bondage. The accounts of slavery are greatly known by emancipated or run away slaves. One recorded account of slavery is by Solomon B. Northup’s autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave which was published in 1853.
Solomon Northup was born a freeman in New York in 1808 (3). His father, who had been a slave until his owner death had granted him his freedom in his, wills (5). In 1829, Northup married Anne Hampton and worked as a laborer in Hartford (6). However, Solomon was captured after being tricked by slave traders to work…show more content…
Offenders were subject to punishment, including whipping, branding, imprisonment, and death (81-83).
Magnolia Myth conception is singularly insulting, since it implies that slavery is ok, as long as slaves are treated well (Lecture Notes, 10/27-31/03). And it implies that as long as slave owners weren't beaten then bondage might even have been good for the slaves. The Magnolia Myth spread that slaves were content and in fact happy to be kept in bondage. Slaves owners in the south published pamphlets to show that slaves were happy being in bondage, pamphlets includes slaves dancing, well dressed, smiling. Slave owner in response to northerners abolitionist pamphlet, southerner argued that southerners treated their slaves better than northerner treated free blacks and their workers (Lecture Notes, 10/31/03). Southerners in retaliation included pictures of what they felt blacks lived and treated in the north, pictures included black working as prostitutes, sleeping on the streets, poor, working long hours and being mistreated in the factories, and being sick constantly (Lecture Notes, 10/31/03).
Southerners slave owners who argued that slavery was good for slaves longed used the bible and whips to support their theory and philosophy that slavery civilized slaves. Peter Tanner used the bible to explicate to his slave the importance of being obedience. Peter Tanner had a habit of reading to his slave each Sabbath. During Solomon Northup brief