Lesson 130 – Contrasts in 12 Years a Slave

Write 500 words on this topic: “How could I adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts?”

Obviously the main contrast in 12 Years a Slavery was the contrast between slavery and freedom. A slave was considered property. He was not a person as a slave, he was just an article that belonged to his master. They often had very little or no sense of self-respect.

Freed men knew that they were protected by law and that they were not at the mercy of any other man. They could respect themselves as people who made their own way in life and set their own standards.

Another contrast is the one that I wrote about in my last essay: the difference between Eliza and Northup and their reactions to losing their families. Eliza’s was much more dramatic while Northup was able to keep himself together. Throughout the book, Northup uses contrasts to describe things, like when he had to beat a fellow slave. He mentioned what a beautiful day it was and contrasted it to the horrible thing he was forced to do. This helped to describe what a revolting life he had as a slave on that plantation.

Another example of the contrasts that Northup used were the different masters that he had. One of them tried to kill him and he only escaped by running away for a time. When he returned his master never tried to kill him again. Part of the reason behind this may have been that Northup attacked the man before running away. It was purely out of self-defense but it did leave a lasting impression on him.

Contrasts are a great way to use writing. They give a better impression of settings and characters.

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