Twelve Years a Slave

by Solomon Northup..................report by Colton Siebert

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Overview

Everything can change in a single day. Solomon Northup, a sought-after musician and hardworking African-American from the free state of New York, was happily married and had two children. One day, he was approached by two men and offered a job playing his violin along with a circus group. He agreed, and accompanied the two men to Washington D.C. for a performance. Unwittingly, he was drugged and taken south to the slave state of Virginia. From there, he was sold into slavery, ending up in Bayou Boeuf, Louisiana. He spent time working for a kind owner, a lunatic that wanted his blood, and an evil, cold-hearted slave owner. Northup describes the terrors of slavery in this influential book, and creates a picture of what slave life really was like. His descriptions include daily beatings, inhumane conditions, and incessant work nearly every day of the year. The book is written from a first person point of view, is non-fiction, and the prevailing theme is the human longing for freedom.

Questions

1. What did you enjoy about the book?

I enjoyed how Solomon describes the experience so well. For example, he spent nearly a chapter explaining how cotton and sugar picking work, so the reader can understand what all he had to go through and experience.

2. What was the author's purpose for writing this book?

Mr. Northup wrote this book in order to reveal the horrors of slavery and to describe to people who hadn't seen slavery firsthand what exactly it meant to be a slave.

3. What interesting facts do you know about the author?

Northup was one of many free African-Americans that were illegal brought into slave state and sold into slavery. His intelligence and physical and mental strength allowed him write back to people he knew and for them to rescue him from bondage.

4. Would you recommend this book?

I would absolutely recommend this book, and I think everyone should have to read it. The book describes exactly what happens when a culture decides that enslaving a group of people is ok. Slavery leads to corrupt leaders and sad cases of individual talents being stifled or completely extinguished.