Slavery In 12 Years A Slave By Solomon Northup
Twelve Years A Slave, by Solomon Northup. Extreme violence is central theme in Northup’s narrative. He emphasizes that the slave owner’s authority was only maintained by terrorizing enslaved black people they owned with relentless physical and psychological violence. Whips, paddles, shackles, and the stocks make repeat appearances, especially in Solomon’s description of his life as a newly kidnapped free man. Stripped of his clothing and nailed to the floor, Northup endured blow after blow to his naked body after he awoke in a slave pen; his enslavers paused only to ask if their prisoner would accept his new status. As Northup recollected, it was only after the paddle broke and his enslaver seized a rope to continue beating him that Northup was finally silenced into accepting his new identity as a slave. In these scenes of brutality, Northup insisted such sadistic events were so traumatic that he could still feel them while writing.“I thought I must die beneath the lashes of the accursed brute. Even now the flesh crawls upon my bones, as I recall the scene. I was all on fire. My sufferings I can compare to nothing else than the burning agonies of …show more content…
Pasty’s mistress took her jealous anger out on her female slave instead of finding fault in her husband. “Nothing delighted the mistress so much as to see [Patsey] suffer,” noted Northup. He continued, “more than once, when [master] Epps refused to sell her, has she tempted me with bribes to put her secretly to death, and bury her body in some lonely place in the margin of the swamp.” Doubly abused by the sexual terror and physiological torment of her master and mistress, respectively, Patsey’s story represented the brutality of slavery experienced by bondswomen. At the hands of white men, Northup made clear, black women were sexually and physically exploited with impunity during slavery. This normalization of sexual exploitation of slave women reflected the racist perceptions and stigmatization of black women.
Female slaves also faced the separation of families and children. In his account, Northup noted the intense emotions of female slave mothers at the auction block. Relating the remorselessness of white slave traders who disregarded the feelings of slave mothers separated from their children, he recalled the intense grieving of a female slave named Eliza after she had been forcibly separated from her two young children. Eliza was overwhelmed with grief when a new white master purchased her children and not