Recently, I’ve finished the autobiography “12 Years A Slave,” by Solomon Northup. Northup was born a free man but had been kidnapped into slavery. He was later freed, although it took 12 years for help to arrive. Once freed, however, he took it into his hands to write an autobiography to describe what happened during the 12 years he was a slave.
Northup used many contrasts in the book, showing both the good and bad sides in each situation. One of the main contrasts portrayed in the book is when he was being captured. Northup was in the North and had been drugged and chained in a slave pen. From there, he could still see the capitol, a sign of freedom, justice, and equality. He saw all this, but still was held against his will, on the way to becoming a slave, and having but little chance of escaping and obtaining freedom ever again. Using contrasts such as this show us that the situation really was depressing, and yet although he was so close to his rights, he was so far at the same time.
Another main contrast in this book is the one between the kind master Ford, and the cruel master Epps. Ford was his first master, he was very kind, and was also Christian. He gave sermons to the slaves and was nice to all of them. The problem was, that Ford hired a bad overseer. One which was mean, and who absolutely hated Northup. So much so, that he almost killed Northup by hanging him up. Northup’s life was in danger, and Ford recognized that, so Northup was sold to a man named Epps.
Epps was a very cruel master, and he worked the slaves on a cotton picking plantation. On the first day, the slaves were made to pick as much as they could. In the next days, if the amount they picked was less than before, they got whipped. If they pick the same amount, they don’t get whipped, and if they pick more than they are expected to pick, they have to pick as much, or even more the next day.
Nort only that, but Epps would also get drunk very often, and would go around whipping slaves for no reason, and made them dance well-past midnight, expecting them to work just as hard the next day.
What I think Northup did that was amazing in his writing, was his ability to contrast and describe things so well. In this way, he manages to pull the readers in, and also to get them more interested in the events that had happened. He also does not forcefully shove his opinions onto you but instead lets you decide for yourself what your view on slavery at the end of the book is.