The Gruesome Truth
“My name is Solomon Northop, I am a free man residing in Saratoga, New York” CITATION McQueen \l 1033 (McQueen). Unfortunately at this point for Mr. Northop it would do no good for him to speak up, in fact, it did more harm than good. In the film 12 Years A Slave, the audience encounters the horrible kidnapping, based on a true story, of a free black man named Solomon Northop. This film is by no means easy to watch but it accurately portrays the life of slaves, and free blacks, who were caught up in the gruesome world of slavery. The history of Slavery in the American South is not a secret. African American people were treated like rag dolls; they were locked up in cages, sold off continuously for money, separated from families, horrifically beaten and worked to death. The audience is taken on a ride, not only through the life of Northop, but also through slave history in America, first seeing where he is out now, being sold off into slavery for the first time in his life, then we flashback to life as a free man in the state of New York, and finally the story of his kidnapping and the brutal reality he was about to endure for twelve long years. In 1841, in Northern America, free blacks were not uncommon. In fact, the number of free blacks in the north began to outnumber the slaves. In 1830, 11 years before Northop’s story took place, “there were over 122,000 free blacks in these states and about 2700 slaves, almost all of them in New Jersey, which was the last northern state to begin to end slavery” CITATION Finkleman \l 1033 (Finkleman and Malone). Of course, there were still some boundaries set by many people, such as blacks shouldn’t shop in white shops. This is made apparent in one of the first scenes of the film where Solomon and his family walk into a shop, owned by a white man, to buy a new bag. The man obviously has no problem with this but some people would. This intrigues a younger black man into wanting to step foot into the shop...
Bibliography: l 1033 12 Years A Slave. Dir. Steven McQueen. Perf. Chiwetel Emjiofor. 2013. DVD.
Finkleman, Paul and Christopher Malone. "Free Blacks in the North." Encyclopedia of the New American Nation (2006): 29-34. Web.
PBS. n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
Podhoretz, John. "Man In Chains, Hard to Watch, Important to See, The Reality of Slavery." U.S. History in Context (2013). Web.
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