TwelveYears A Slave
TwelveYears a Slave
Slaverywas a permeating feature in both the northern and the southerncultures. On top of oppressing the black Americans and Africans,slavery brought a lot of constraints on whites. This act of slaverylimited people’s options, stunted them, and distorted most of theirchoices. The film Twelve Years a Slave paints a grim picture of howoppressive slavery was and how the white culture sustained andrationalized it. It also tries to illustrate how the blacks tried toresist the dehumanizing aspects of the act (Northup, 2014). Slaveryin the American society was characterized by the following:
Institutionalizationwas due to the economic need. White colonialists realized that fortheir produce to be marketable and profitable there was a need for aregular supply of casual laborers. These laborers could be obtainedin large quantities. Over the time, slavery was seen as an idealsolution to most of their economic troubles. The film clearlydescribes this concept when Solomon Northup, a free man of blackorigin, is lied to and drugged by two white men namely Hamilton andBrown (Northup, 2014). The two then delivered Northup to a slave penrun by another man named Burch. He was eventually shipped togetherwith other people against their will to New Orleans (Northup, 2014).He was then sold. This part of the film clearly demonstrates theillegal detention and trade of a vast number of blacks to plantationowners for economic gain. For slaves, their experiences weredevastating. They were torn from family and homeland and then forcedto provide intensive labor on farms. This experience can bedemonstrated by the way Northup was separated from his family andthen sold to a far state where he was to work as a laborer on aplantation.
Physicaland Emotional Brutality
Slaveswere subjected to physical and mental degradation. Most of them weredenied their fundamental rights. They were separated from theirfamilies, beaten mercilessly despite their gender and then treated aspersonal property. Executions, whippings, and rape were common.Slaves were denied learning or educational opportunities and medicalcare was provided by fellow slaves who had medical knowledge. Mastersmaintained unconditional submission and strict discipline instillingfear and creating a sense of inferiority among the slaves.
Thisviolence can be illustrated where Northup was assaulted at a slavepen. Shackles, whips, and paddles make many appearances in the newlife of Northup as a kidnapped free black man. The scenario at theslave pen gives a good account of this violence. He is stripped offhis clothes and nailed to the floor (Northup, 2014). He is thenbeaten thoroughly. Also, the experience of Patsey illustrates a lifeof torment and fear. She was caught between sexual abuse perpetratedby her master and the jealous wrath of her mistress (Northup, 2014).This physiological torture and sexual terror demonstrated theexperience of women slaves.
EnslavedAfricans and black Americans rebelled or resisted in different ways.Many instances were to show that they did not sign up for thisvoluntarily. They demonstrated their determination and strength inthis fight for freedom. The film illustrates some resistance byNorthup. The first instance is where he is physically abused in aslave pen and asked whether he is a free man or not. After beingsold, he tries to explain to his master that he is a free man but hismaster could not accept it. When working with Bass, he reveals how hewas kidnapped and sought his help to deliver a letter. The sheriffresponds and comes to ask a few questions to confirm his status as afree man. Eventually, Northup got his freedom after twelve years ofslavery (Northup, 2014).
Northup,S. (2014). Twelveyears a slave.Los Angeles: Graymalkin Media.