Twelve Years a Slave

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For a long time the general Southern opinion about the institution of slavery was positive in a sense that slavery civilized the slaves and that made them content. Solomon Northup’s narrative, though, reveals the real impact upon slaves, which stays on the opposite side of the argument, if such could possibly exist, whether such institution consisted of chains, violence, and ignorance of basic and natural human rights could possibly provide any benefits at all for the enslaved. By the 19th century the American South has already established its peculiar institution by laws and codes, turning blacks into nothing more but a chattel property and securing the future of the profitable but highly labor intensive cotton industry. Not always, though, skin color is a sign for slave association but the laws and codes established by white men and plantation owners and especially the so-called One Drop Rule. Northup describes such an absurd case in his book (186). The Magnolia Myth served as e justification of slavery describing it as a not evil institution, serving blacks as well whites. Nowhere in Northup’s narrative a support for that exists. Au contraire, the only fact that may diminish but not deprive the terror of slavery is if a master is kind and noble (220). Again, a proven fact is that kindness can gain more respect and obedience than punishment and curses, but this is often ignored and brutality, inhuman punishments, and treatments are the instruments for control. The burden of the hard, all-day-long work, underfeeding, and insufficient rest in unimaginable conditions (122-30) added to the violence that is an essential policy of slave institution (138-9) do not lead to civilization of the slaves but to unstoppable desire for escape or revolt (190). Running away from slavery is a dangerous but not sought route for a great number of slaves. A lot of dangers surround the slaves’ quarters in the face of natural threats and, of course, enormous risk of exposure of...
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