Twelve Years a Slave

A Literary Analysis of Twelve Years a Slave College

Solomon Northup’s book Twelve Year’s a Slave covered the story of Northup himself as he was kidnapped and forced into slavery. He worked as a slave for 12 years before the government was able to locate and free him. Solomon Northup’s story was relevant when it was written and is still relevant today. At the time it was written, it exposed the hardships and cruelty of slavery to the general public, and today Twelve Year’s a Slave serves as an important historical document--a primary source for information on the conditions slaves lived in during the 1840’s.

Solomon Northup was a free man living in New York State. He was well known locally for his skills as a violinist. In 1841, he was approached by two men claiming to belong to a traveling circus. They wanted him to accompany them on their way to Washington D.C. and offered to pay him for every night he played his violin. They drugged him once they got to D.C. and he woke up in a slave pen beneath the city streets. It’s here the dirty truth of slavery begins to show itself to the reader. Solomon Northup refused to comply with the slaver, insisting instead that he was a free man with rights. The slaver beat Solomon Northup with a wooden paddle until he stopped speaking of being...

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