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Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup

Days ago I was with my family, in my home. Now you tell me all is lost. ""Tell no one who I really am" if I want to survive. I don't want to survive. I want to live.
~ Solomon to another slave

Solomon Northup is the main protagonist of the critically acclaimed 2013 film 12 Years a Slave. Fearless and willing to face any obstacle, Northup is determined to return home to his family after being kidnapped and sold into slavery. He is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Biography

Our story begins in 1841, where Solomon Northup is once a free negro who works as a carpenter and fiddle player. He has a wife and is the father of two children. Two men offer Solomon a job as a musician for two weeks, but instead they abduct him and sell him into slavery.

Our hero is shipped on a slave ship to a New Orleans plantation where he is re-named "Platt" as a runaway slave. Northup is viciously beaten, witnesses a slave woman Eliza being separated from her children, and is sold to plantation owner William Ford. He helps carry logs downstream and, for being useful, is given a violin as a reward. Racist carpenter John Tebeats despises him and mistreats him, leading Northup and John into terrible conflicts. As a result, Tibeats and his thugs attempt to hang him. Northup is aided by Eliza, one of the slaves he has helped. Ford cuts him down and tells him he must be sold to the diabolical Edwin Epps. Northup tries to reason with Ford, trying to explain that he is really a free man, but Ford says otherwise.

Epps believes his right to mistreat the slaves is biblically sanctioned, and encourages the slaves to accept their fate. He also forces the slaves to pick 200 pounds of cotton every day or be beaten. A beautiful and fiery female slave named Patsey picks 500 pounds of cotton each day and is praised and coveted by Epps himself. His wife mistreats Patsey, but Epps declares that he'll choose Patsey over his wife. After being raped by Epps, Patsey asks for Northup's help in her suicide, but he bravely says no.

After trouble with the plantation (an outbreak of cotton worms), Northup gains the favor of the plantation owner, who assigns him to play the violin for parties.

Northup attempts to pay the money to a former overseer to mail a letter to his friends and family in his native New York. As such, Northup convinces Epps that it was all a lie. To protect himself from betrayal, Northup burns the letter.

One day, Epps is angry after discovering that Patsey is missing. Our heroine returns and reveals that she went to get soap because Epps's wife refused to give it to her. Epps orders her stripped bare and bound to a post, then forces Northup to whip her. Northup reluctantly obeys him but the evil man grabs the whip and viciously lashes Patsey with it.

As Patsey takes a while to recover from her wounds, Northup works on constructing a gazebo with a Canadian abolitionist named Bass, who stands up against Epps' treatment of Northup and tells him about his kindapping. Northup asks him to help give a letter to his family. Bass does so, risking his life.

One day, Northup is called over by the local sheriff, who asks him about his life in New York. As Northup leaves the plantation, he gives Patsey one last hug and Epps is foiled.

After his twelve years of bondage, Northup is delivered from slavery and returned to his family.

Videos

Let Me Weep

Let Me Weep

12 Years a Slave 2013 - Roll Jordan Roll

12 Years a Slave 2013 - Roll Jordan Roll

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