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Topics: Henry Louis Gates, African American, African-American literature Pages: 3 (1028 words) Published: December 10, 2013
Solomon Northup was born a free man in Minerva, New York, in 1808. Little is known about his mother, whom his narrative does not identify by name. His father, Mintus, was originally enslaved to the Northup family from Rhode Island, but he was freed after the family moved to New York. As at Pacoudrie Swamp," evading water moccasins and alligators (p. 139). He makes his ayback to Ford's plantation, where he is protected from harm. Persuaded by William Ford that killing Northup will only bring him the condenation of his peers as well as financial loss, Tibeats hires Northup out tocut ugarcan in the "Bine Break" fartherdown the RedRiver. Around this time, Northup learns that Eliza has died of malnourishment and grieat the loss of her daughter (pp. 159-160). Soon afterwards, Tibeats sells Northup to Edwin Epps, a "repulsive and coarse" cottto describing life on a cotton plantation.e provids etailed descriptions of the proeesof pantn utivating,and pickig coton (p. 163-168, character sketches of his fellow slaves (pp. 185-190), and gradations og, harvestin,andprocesingthe, it also reflects he wry humor with which Northup endured his situationr exampl, in desribing the meager rt, superindued by excessive high living" (. 169). Likewise, he begins his description of slave huts bying that "the softest cuches in the world are notto be foud in the log mansion of the slave" (p. 170). Ironic metaphors and understatements such as these render Northup's account all the more compelling, leavening the extent of his degradation with a wry and persistent sense of humor. Twelve Years a Slave occasionally ventures into nature writing and ethnography, as Northup describes southern flora, fauna, and culture from the perspective of a northern traveler. Narrating his relocation to work as a cane-clearer after his fights with Tibeats, Northup writes, "we were now in the midst of trees of enormous growth, whose wide-spreading branches almost shut out the light of the sun . . . The bay and...
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