My Wife, My Slave - Book 3

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12 Years a Slave () - IMDb

Burch, a brutal slave trader in Washington, D. When Solomon protests his captivity and asserts his right to freedom, Burch responds by beating him into submission and threatening to kill him if he ever mentions his freedom again. At length, Solomon is allowed to join the other slaves being held by Burch, and he discovers just how hopeless his situation is.

Surrounded by slaves and a few other kidnap victims, he is transported downriver, eventually landing in New Orleans, Louisiana. Solomon is put up for sale, but his sale is delayed when he contracts smallpox, which nearly kills him.

The Case for Reparations

After he finally recovers, he is sold, along with a slave girl named Eliza, to a man named William Ford. Ford is a kindly master, devout in his Christian faith, and given to generosity toward his slaves. Solomon is well-liked by Ford in return. However, a series of financial missteps result in Ford selling Platt to a cruel carpenter named John M.

While working on a project, Tibeats becomes so enraged that he attempts to whip Platt.

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Platt is the stronger of the two, though, and he turns the tables on his new master, whipping him instead. Hell-bent on revenge, Tibeats twice attempts to murder Platt. Only the intervention of William Ford and his overseer, Mr.

Epps is indeed a cruel master. He was cautious, but he consented again, on account that the two men had such friendly and protective dispositions. They even advised him to procure free papers. But once there, the men drugged Northup—he was not intoxicated, he said—and after a night of agony he fainted. There are a number of these minor differences, but they have only to do with the inability to fit an entire book into a movie—omitting details, folding one character into another to create a composite—and never alter the significance of the events.

12 Years a Slave: the book behind the film

At this point, and onward, the viewer might be mistaken that he or she has ended up in the wrong theater, watching a horror film. Dissonant music that might otherwise be found in a Kubrick film portend to the worst. Monstrous faces of his tormentors glide in and out of the light like wraiths. This is no coincidence or misunderstanding. The pounding soundtrack, the eerie shock, the bloody gore—director Steve McQueen has plundered the dark arts to unsettle the viewer. This happens to be the perfect course of action, better to frighten you with the hellish episode of slavery.

You are not mistaken—this is indeed a horror story. It just so happens that it is also a true story, though one with more than a hint of the surreal, so deranged was the treatment of human beings as property. A slave broker by the name of Theophilus Freeman Paul Giamatti sets the men, women, and children up inside a showroom as if they were mannequins.

Northup wrote that Ford was actually a most kind and fair master. He was the owner of not only a plantation but a large lumber establishment, and treated his slaves well. Unfortunately, the other half of the bitterness emanates from morally baleful men like John Tibeats he is spelled that way in the book, but the name is in fact Tibaut in real life. Tibeats naturally mistreated Northup any chance he could. One day he attacked Northup, who overpowered his owner and, seizing his whip, struck him—an act punishable by death in Louisiana.

For they are My servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt; they may not give themselves over into servitude. You shall not rule over him ruthlessly; you shall fear your God. Just as an Israelite was obligated to protect, redeem, and avenge his brother, he also had these obligations to a kinsman Exodus ; Judges ; Isaiah This is a breakthrough of earthshaking proportions. If one of them falls into destitution, I must do everything I can to raise him out of his desperate straits.

Solomon Northup

No Israelite may become a slave. All Israelites are servants of God. God took the people out of the House of Bondage in Egypt to be free, not to be slaves. Deuteronomy, it would seem, is more humane than Exodus but less humane than Leviticus. Deuteronomy, for instance, states that the owner should give provisions to the freed servant, whereas Exodus does not have anything about this. In Deuteronomy, however, there is such a thing as the permanent bondage of an Israelite.

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Deuteronomy does not seem to have the same anti-slavery ideal as Leviticus. This is not the moral trajectory that we would prefer. We would rather have Deuteronomy, the later text, as the more abolitionist text.

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Why would Leviticus not have the system of seven-year cycles? Leviticus seems to care less about the individual than the family. At the end of the 50 years, the family would go free. The descendants of the individual would benefit and would regain their property. This is why a kinsman of the man in debt is allowed to buy the land earlier than the Jubilee.


In these texts, we see the move from tribal to national consciousness. The Book of the Covenant in Exodus reflects a tribal society.

Leviticus is still concerned about the family. To review the outline of Israelite history: David and Solomon changed the tribal inheritances into federal districts, the northern tribes split into a second kingdom, many from those northern tribes were transplanted to Assyria. What was left, at least according to biblical history, was the kingdom of Judah. What we need to understand in this context is that these events created a profound change that is reflected in the laws of Deuteronomy.