Last updated: July 24, 2019
Topic: LawIntelligence
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Adriane Hall 11/16/17 1 Period   12 Years a Slave- Prompt 3 In the film 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen,   it explores the story of Solomon Northup,  a free African American man who was captured, kidnapped and sold into the southern slave trade. He endured extreme hardships including frequent beatings and the daily reminder of the intense discrimination towards his race. Though he was treated like he was nothing, Solomon never lost hope in that he would soon return to live a normal “free” life. His courage and bravery eventually led this is but getting there was terribly hard.  Solomon’s descent into slavery started  when he was captured after being  drugged which resulted with him waking up to discover he was fully chained in a dark cell with no answer as to where he was and why he was in this position. Killam and McNairy are the  two men who tricked him by pretending to offer  a job as a musician but, instead, kidnapped him into the terrible slave trade. Solomon is petrified when he realizes what has happened, even though he was a free man. His courage is tested when he insists telling Killam and McNairy both his real name and that he is a free man. This results in his being  brutally whipped until he breaks down from the agony and agrees with his tormentors that he is a slave, one who is now property. This new life is a complete shock because he had, just days before, lived with  basic human rights and been treated with normal decency. In one scene there is a flashback of when he was free, and going to the general store with his family. It shows a slave sneaking into the store  to just simply observe Solomon, hoping and wishing he could be in that position too– free. This memory reminds Solomon he is living a new and ugly life with a new name forced upon him and a terrifying future ahead that  he will have to endure and survive if he can.  In the film, Solomon has to swallow the truth, his freedom and pride in order to survive through his horrifying captivity. Once he begins to experience what his life will be like for the next 12 years, thoughts of liberty and living a life as a free man are constantly in the back of his head. Solomon dreams of his life back at home with his family. His courage  is shown through his fixed abilities to survive as a slave in order to return to his family as a free man.  One emotional scene that represents his bravery is when he sacrifices himself in order to reduce Patsy’s abuse from her owner, Edwin Epps. Edwin becomes furious after he discovers Patsy has been missing from the plantation. Patsy returns she explains to him that she has been at Mistress Shaw’s to get a bar of soap to use to  clean herself. Edwin, who is attracted to Patsy, finds himself  conflicted as he also desires to punish her and show his authority.  His “solution”  is to do what he knows best, inflicting violence. Patsy is  tied to a post. Edwin then forces Solomon is whip her, knowing it will cause him great emotional pain as well. Solomon reluctantly does so. Solomon whips Patsy in order to save her from  even greater suffering  from Epps,  if he was to whip her. He knew if he whipped her instead he could do it not as hard and painful as Epps who on the other hand, would not hold back from violently lashing her. Throughout the film, Solomon experiences the worst of the worst in terms of fights and beatings. His masters can sense and even appreciate his intelligence and his dignity, even though a slave. And he hung on to his self-esteem even as the risk of death. This was shown when he whipped Tibeats, the taunting white overseer, who keep demeaning Solomon and the other slaves all the time. Finally, Solomon had enough and, after Tibeats tore off boards Solomon had been nailing, he lashed out and began to wrestle, punch, and whip Tibeats. He  wanted to make him feel what the other slaves felt on a daily basis. At the same time, Solomon was showing he was a person who stood up for himself. Sadly, his actions resulted in his nearly being  lynched, but it was thankfully stopped. Soloman had to hang from a noose for hours suffering, barely able to breathe but he kept fighting and never gave up. He didn’t call out for help nor make a scene, he just hang with his feet barely making contact with the ground-helpless but still strong. He was constantly whipped for picking a low amount of cotton everyday but that daily beating never dimmed the eternal flame inside him to forever fight. He even attempted to make friends with some men on the plantations in order to mail out letters, trying to inform his family of his current situation. He knew the potential dangers of what would happen if he were to get caught but that did not scare him off from his unending goal to escape. All of these examples show the courage and strength Solomon  exemplifies and length he will go to live a free life as a human being with rights, including the right to be respected.  12 Years a Slave is truly a testimony of the power of the human spirit  and the determination one has when they never lose hope. Solomon is deceived, captured, kidnapped, stolen from his family, abused, and put in the worst position one had to face in the history of United States.  Yet, he is never broken. Even on his worst days of sorrow and  pain from living on the plantation he endures and tries to rise above. It is fitting that when he is finally freed, he rides away in a wagon and looks back at the others who remain enslaved. Soloman’s heartbreaking journey is clear evidence that no matter the amount of inhumane actions, emotional and physical trauma as well as the fear of losing a dream, can break the spirit of faith and hope and eventually lead to triumph.