"Life as a Slave": Solomon Northup's Personal Narrative on Slave Life
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This paper reviews the narrative account of Solomon Northup's experiences as a slave in his work entitled "Twelve Years a Slave." The paper discusses the widespread appeal of Northup's book, in both the US and abroad. The paper describes "Twelve Years a Slave" as rich in narrative concerning the relationships between master and slave, overseers and among the slaves themselves. Additionally, it depicts very graphically the physical violence and coercion heaped upon the slaves by their masters and overseers. According to the paper, however, Northup also discusses how it was his fortune to be owned by several masters during his captivity, some of whom were humane. The paper concludes by citing Northup's account as showing citizens the beauty of freedom.
From the Paper:"In Chapter Three, Northup describes in great detail one of his first encounters with a slave trader and owner named James H. Burch while being held in the city of Washington in a dark underground apartment that served as a prison, filled with damp and moldy odors. Burch was "a large and powerful man" with an expression of "nothing but cruelty and cunning" (40-41) and with the assistance of another man named Radburn, Northup was stripped naked and beaten severely with a paddle, shaped like an oar with holes drilled into it. In the words of Northup, "Drawing me over a bench, face downward, Radburn placed his heavy foot upon the fetters
(chains). . .and with the paddle, Burch commenced beating me. Blow after blow was inflicted upon my naked body. . . (44). One of these men also held a cat o-nine tails, a type of whip often with metal spurs on the end of each piece of leather which when used against naked skin tore away pieces of flesh, leaving the victim bloody..."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. Intro. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Bantam Classic, 2005.
- Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 & Rescued in 1853. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968
Cite this Book Review:
"Life as a Slave": Solomon Northup's Personal Narrative on Slave Life (2011, November 25) Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/life-as-a-slave-solomon-northup-personal-narrative-on-slave-life-149138/
""Life as a Slave": Solomon Northup's Personal Narrative on Slave Life" 25 November 2011. Web. 14 August. 2022. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/life-as-a-slave-solomon-northup-personal-narrative-on-slave-life-149138/>