12 years a slave study guide

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To whom was the book dedicated?

Harriet Beecher Stowe

When was the book published?

1853

What state was Northup a citizen of?

New York

To where did Northup trace his ancestry?

Northup traces his ancestry on his paternal side to slaves from
Rhode Island

What was Northup's father's name?

Mintus Northup

What was the name of the attorney that later helps Northup gain his freedom? (Hint: has the same last name as Solomon.)

Henry B. Northup

How did his family gain freedom?

Northup's father was freed in his owner's will

Who did Northup marry? What did his wife do for a job?

Northup marries Anne Hampton; she has a job as a cook

Why does the fact that Northup can swim prove later that he is free?

The fact that he can swim proves he is free because slaves were never taught how to swim because that would make it easier to escape

Why did Northup go to Canada (what job was he doing at that time) and why would this, too, have proved he was not a slave?

Northup went to Canada while working in the rafting business,
this also proved he was free because no slaves ever went to
Canada because it was a free country

How many children did Northup have? Give the name and age of each.

Northup had three children; Elizabeth, 10, Margaret, 8, and
Alonzo, 5.

What talent does Northup have that is useful in making extra money?

He can play the violin

What year was he taken in?

1841

Who kidnapped Northup? How did they get him to go with them?

Two men named Brown and Hamilton kidnapped Northup,
Northup went with them because they said they were from a
circus and they offered him a job in the circus.

Why didn't Northup leave a letter to his wife about where he was going?

Northup didn't leave a letter to his wife about where he was going because he thought that, since she was also on a trip away form home, he would be back before she got back and she'd never know he went

What did the men who kidnapped him tell him to go get before leaving
New York?

Brown and Hamilton told Northup to get free papers before they
left New York

What was happening in Washington at the time Northup was there?

While in Washington DC, Northup saw the funeral of General
Harrison

How did Northup's kidnappers kidnap him?

They kidnapped him by drugging him

Where is Northup when he wakes up?

He is in shackles in Williams Slave Pen

Who is James H. Burch?

James Burch is the slave trader that owns Northup for the time
being until he sells him

Why is Northup beat/whipped for his first time?

Northup is whipped because he keeps saying that he is free, and, although Burch knows that, Burch doesn't want Northup to tell people that

Who is Eliza? What are the names of her two children?

Eliza is another slave that was brought to Williams Slave Pen; her children are Randall and Emily

Define irony.

The difference between what appears to be true and what actually is true

What is ironic about Williams slave pen?

The irony about Washington DC is that it is the capitol of a
country whose laws are based on people's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yet there is a slave pen there in which
nobody is free.

At the second slave pen whom does Northup meet? What do they have in common?

At the second slave pen Northup meets Robert, they are both free men who were kidnapped into slavery

What character roles do Northup and this new slave have?

They are confidants to each other

What ship are Northup and the other slaves put on? (The name)

Orleans

What state are they in when they are put on the ship?

Virginia

What is the main cargo on the ship they are on?

Tobacco

What does Northup do for his fellow slaves at freemans slave pen? Why is this so important to
them?

He carves their initials onto their tin cups, this is important
because not only would that then mean they owned the cups,
which is important because they owned almost nothing (not even themselves), but also it had their real names on it not the names given to them as slave names

What do we find out eventually happens to Burch?

He is arrested but is not found guilty

Who is Arthur and what does he have in common with both Northup and Robert?

Arthur is another slave who Northup meets in Freeman's Slave
Pen, he, like Northup and Robert, was kidnapped and put into the slave pen

What is Northup's first new name?

steward

What character roles are Northup and Arthur?

They are confidants to each other

What do Northup and Arthur plan to do? Who do they tell their plans to?

Northup and Arthur plan to take over the ship by killing the captain, they include Robert in their plans

What does Northup figure out about the overturned, small boat on the bow of their ship? (How is it useful?)

The overturned boat is useful because it is a very good hiding
place, which would be helpful in their plan to take over the ship

What happens that spoils their plans?

Robert gets small pox and dies

Who is John Manning (what is his job) and what does he agree to do for Northup?

John Manning is a sailor; he agrees to send a letter to Northup's
family for Northup

What fact about John Manning makes Northup trust him more than
others?

Another fact that makes him more trustworthy is the fact that he is from Canada which means he does not like slavery

Why is the letter an image?

The letter is an image because it shows Northup's one real chance to gain back his freedom, and how he is always looking for a way to write and get a letter sent to his family

What happens to Arthur when their boat lands?

Arthur's family comes to rescue him, because they found out
where he was

What is Northup's second new name? Why does Northup's name need to be changed? Why does this make it harder for Northup to be tracked
down and freed?

Northup's second slave name is Platt, Northup's name must be
changed because normal slaves did not have last names so to
make sure nobody questioned whether Northup was a slave, they had to change his name. Also, this made it harder for his family to find him because they wouldn't know to look for a slave named Platt, they'd look for someone named Northup or Solomon

How does a possible buyer check a slave?

A buyer checks slaves by looking in the slaves mouth, checking
their body to make sure it was strong, and other things like that to see how healthy the slave was.

What did scars on a slave's back show?

It shows that the slave has been whipped a lot which usually
means they aren't obedient

What happens to Randall?

Randall is bought buy someone and is therefore separated from his mother

What happens to nearly all of the slaves on the ship that night?

Almost all of them catch small pox

For how much was Northup finally sold?

1,000

Why is Eliza so sad when she hears she is being bought but not Emily?

She is sad because Emily is her daughter and she has already been separated from her son, so she doesn't want to be separated from her daughter to

Why will Theophilus Freeman not sell Emily? What does this foreshadow about Emily's future?

Theophilus Freeman doesn't sell Emily because he thinks that
when she is older she could be sold for a lot of money because of her beauty, this foreshadows the possibility of her being sexually abused in the future

What theme is developed during the scene when Eliza is separated from her children?

The horrors of slavery because families were split apart

What does Northup say about Eliza?

He says she is a smart, strong woman but that after losing Emily she was devastated

Who is Northup's first master? And how much does he pay for Northup?

Northup's master is William Ford; he pays 1,000 dollars for
Northup

What did Northup's master do as a job?

Ford was a preacher, he also owned a mill

How does Northup's compare his first master to masters later to come?

Northup says that his first master was an extremely nice slave
owner and that since he treated his slaves nicely, they worked
better

What does Northup say about the way a master treats his slaves and the amount of work the slaves produce?

Northup says the nicer you treat your slave the more work you'll
get out of them

What does Northup do to make him known as the "Fulton of Indian Creek?"

He builds a raft that allows wood to be transported quicker and
cheaper

Why are the other plantation owners mad at Ford for giving/allowing
his slaves to have Bibles?

They are mad at Ford for allowing his slaves to have Bibles
because that encourages the slaves to try to read it which means they'll try to read, and also it would be another thing that they'd own

Why does Ford read the Bible to his slaves?

Ford reads the Bible to his slaves to give them hope that once they die they'll go to a better place

Who is known as a "Jack of all Trades?"

Northup because he is good at almost everything

How does Northup describe John M. Tibeats?

He describes him as a short-tempered man who is the opposite of Ford in almost every way

Why is Northup sold to Tibeats?

Ford is in debt to Tibeats so he has to partially sell some of his
slaves to Tibeats to pay that debt

Who was Northup's overseer?

Chapin

What does Northup do to Tibeats that makes Tibeats hate him?

He gets into a fight with Tibeats over the nails Northup brought,
and overpowers Tibeats and whips Tibeats

Tibeats returns with two other people, what do they begin to do to Northup?

They begin to tie him up and hang him

Why does Chapin defend Platt? What legal reason did he have that made
Tibeats stop trying to hang Platt?

Chapin defends Platt because he does not like Tibeats and he also
reminds Tibeats that Ford has ownership to Northup legally so
that would make Tibeats have to pay for Northup

Why doesn't Chapin take the ropes off of Northup?

He doesn't take off the ropes because he doesn't want to go
against Tibeats anymore and he wants Ford to see what Tibeats did

How is Chapin a foil to Tibeats?

Chapin is a foil to Tibeats because he is nice to slaves

Why does Ford tell Northup not to sleep in the slave cabins, but in the
house that night?

Ford tells Northup to sleep in the main house because then if
Tibeats killed Northup, Ford could testify against Tibeats in court, whereas the other slaves couldn't testify against a white man in court

Why could Tibeats murder Northup in front of many slaves yet none of them could testify against him in court?

No slaves could testify against Tibeats in court because there was a law that prohibited slaves/blacks from being able to testify in court against a white man

How is Peter Tanner related to William Ford?

Tanner is related to Ford because Ford's wife is Tanner's sister

How are Ford and Tanner foils?

Ford and Tanner are foils because they use the Bible in different ways, for uses it to give his slaves hope, and Tanner uses it to justify the whipping of his slaves

What does Peter Tanner tell Northup to do to some other slaves?

Tanner tells Northup to put the other slaves into the stocks

What does Tibeats try to do to Northup?

Tibeats tries again to kill Northup only this time he attacks
Northup with many things including an axe

What type of allusion is: "It is I, be not afraid."

That is a biblical allusion

What is different about Northup than most other slaves, and how does this help him escape from the dogs?

The difference between Northup and many other slaves is
Northup can swim which throws the dogs off of his scent and
therefore they cannot track him anymore

How does Northup get back to Ford's house?

He walks back and even outsmarts another plantation owner into telling him which way Ford's plantation was

What does Northup do while healing/resting?

Northup tends to the garden while he is healing/resting

Who does Tibeats temporarily sell Northup to?

Tibeats temporarily sells Northup to Mr. Eldret

What happens to slaves that are found without a pass?

Slaves without a pass can be arrested or whipped severely

What do we learn happens to Eliza?

Eliza will grow old and eventually will be practically whipped to
death by her last master

Who is Northup's next owner?

Northup's next owner is Mr. Epps

How is epps different from Ford?

Epps is different from Ford because he is very cruel to his slaves

What bad habit does his new owner have? What does he do to his slaves at these times?

Epps has a bad habit of drinking a lot, when he is drunk, he either makes his slaves dance or whips them just for the fun of it

How much is an ordinary days work of cotton?

200lbs

who is the best cotton picking slave epps had

patsey

what was northup bad at

picking cotton

List the average amount of whips a slave would receive for different mistakes.

25-small offense, 50-average offense, 100-sever offense, 150-200-for being lazy, 500-attempting to runaway

How long was Northup a slave to Epps?

10 years

Why was Patsey whipped so much?

Patsey was whipped so much because Mistress Epps did not like the fact that her husband had a sexual relationship with Patsey and so to make up for it she had her husband whip Patsey everytime she found out

What is a "Guinea ******" and why is Patsey proud of being one?

A "guinea ******" is a person who is from Guinea, Africa, Patsey is from there and she is proud of that because it means she isn't from a long line of slaves in the South

Why was Mrs. Epps jealous of Patsey?

Mrs. Epps is jealous of Patsey because her husband has a sexual relationship with Patsey

How did Northup get food when he and the other slaves weren't fed because of lack of food? And what did he eat? What theme does this develop?

Northup gets food by setting up a trap to trap his food. He eats
fish a lot. This develops the theme of Survival and the
ability to adapt, because Northup has to adapt to getting his own food and he does

What did Northup say the qualities for an overseer/driver were?

must be cruel, brutal, and heartless

How did Northup please both Epps and the slaves in the field while he was a driver? What technique does he perfect as a driver that helps the other slaves? What theme does this help develop?

While being a driver Northup pleases both Epps and the other
slaves by perfecting a technique of whipping where he isn't
actually whipping the slaves but he gets close enough that when Epps looks he thinks Northup is whipping the others a lot. This develops the theme of survival is based upon the ability to adapt, because Northup has to adapt to being forced to whip his friends, he does so by not actually whipping his friends and also not getting himself whipped for not whipping his fellow slaves

Who did Northup trust would help him mail a letter to his family? What did this man do instead of mailing the letters? (Who seems like a confidant but turns out to be an antagonist?)

Northup trusts that Armsby will mail a letter to Northup's family
for him, but instead Armsby tells Northup's master Epps about
Northup's letter so that he could get Northup in trouble

How did Northup get out of getting in trouble for trying to send letters to his family?

Northup gets out of trouble by lying and saying Armsby made
that up as a lie to make Epps think that he needed an overseer and then Armsby could convince Epps that he could be that overseer

What does "spare the rod" mean?

"Spare the rod" comes from the saying "spare the rod, spoil the
child" because the rod represents consequences and without
inflicting consequences nobody would do what they should do, so if you "spare the rod" nobody (in this case the slaves) is going to do the work they're supposed to do

What does Northup get in trouble for saying? What does Epps do?

Northup gets in trouble for saying that he would like for O'Niel
to buy him because he didn't like Epps, Epps hears about this
comment from his wife and whips Northup for saying that

Who does Epps stab while drunk one night?

stabs Uncle Abram

Who helped the slave that was stabbed? How did he/she help?

Mistress Epps helped Uncle Abram by sewing up the wound

Why did Epps have Patsey tied to the ground and whipped by Northup?

Epps has Patsey whipped for going over to the neighboring plantation to get soap, he doesn't like this because he thinks she and the neighboring plantation owner were having some sexual relationship, so he has her whipped

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