Northup, a free man, had been separated from his wife and children for 12 years, having been kidnapped into slavery. Eliza was another slave, who had also been separated from her children after she was sold to a different master. These two had taken their separation very differently.
On the one hand, Northup took his separation from his family quietly. Although on the first day he said that he cried until he could cry no more, after that, he seemed none worse for the wear. Of course, he still missed his family a lot, but he still felt that God would provide a way for him to go back to his family.
On the other hand, Eliza, once separated, was constantly in grief. Even though she had lost her kids, she never stopped thinking and talking about them. As Northup said, “Eliza never after saw or heard of Emily or Randall. Day nor night, however, were they ever absent from her memory. In the cotton field, in the cabin, always and everywhere, she was talking of them—often to them, as if they were actually present. Only when absorbed in that illusion, or asleep, did she ever have a moment’s comfort afterwards.”
They both were separated from their families in different ways. Northup was separated quickly, and without warning, while Eliza had known it was going to happen, but there was nothing she could do about it. I had never been in either situation, and so do not know which one was worse, but I do know that both are very taxing.
In the end, through his perseverance and resilience, Northup managed to reunite with his family once more, while Eliza, as Northup said, quickly died of grief. Both went through terrible ordeals and dealt with their situations very differently.