Character Analysis of "12 Years a Slave"

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Solomon Northup in the film 12 Years a slave is a free black man who is kidnapped and forced to work as a slave. He experiences a change in status and has to get acculturated to the lives of the slaves. For instance, Northup having interacted with the whites acts like them and dresses like them. When he gets to the plantation he has to act like the slaves to survive.

Character #2(include the character's name)

Samuel Bass is a Canadian laborer who works on Epps’s gazebo. It is rather ostensible that he is appalled by the way Epps treats his slaves with brutality. His empathy makes him identify with the slaves more than the slave owners despite being white. This aspect explains the fact that he is an abolitionist.


Did the film reveal any form of racism or stereotyping from any perspective? Please be specific and elaborate with details/examples.(100 original words minimum 50 original words each)

“12 Years a Slave” reveals racism in all dimensions. With the main backdrop of the film being based on slave trade, it is obvious that the blacks in the movie are treated as less superior people. For instance, Northup is kidnapped and sold into slavery because of his color and no one actually believes that he is a freeman.

What purpose do you think it served in this film? Please elaborate using terminology and concepts from this course.Please be specific and elaborate with details/examples.

The purpose of racism and stereotypes in “12 Years a Slave” is to highlight the plight of the blacks during the time. Violence plays a key role in stamping the authority that the slave owners have on the slaves. In light of this, racism underscores the racial conflicts and the impacts of the stereotypes.


To what extent did the main characters fit or not fit the descriptions of the ethnic/religious/national group that you have read about in our text and learned about in other ways. Describe, Compare and/or Contrast. (100 original words minimum)

The main character is an African American. He is a black person whose physical traits are recognizant of the blacks. For instance, he has dark skin, kinky hair, and black eyes. However, before his enslavement, he did not fit the social status of the majority African Americans at the moment. He was free and was rather educated and freely mingled with the elites. However, upon his enslavement, he got to fit the description of the blacks during that period rather perfectly. Besides his aforementioned physical traits he was also more built in stature that made him better placed to take up menial jobs. His social status was demoted to fit the description of the blacks during that time.


What role did food play in the lives of the characters? Please be specific and elaborate with details/examples.(100 original words minimum)

“12 Years a Slave” exemplifies ways in which African culture infiltrated the mainstream American society. This infiltration is not only seen in the way the people carry themselves in the field but also in the food and culinary choices. In the movie food serves social purposes mostly. For instance, Solomon was tricked as he had dinner with Brown and Hamilton before his kidnapping. Additionally, the food among the slaves shows some connection to their original homeland, i.e. Africa. The food brings them together and reminds them of their bond with Africa. In this regards, food in this film is basically for social and cultural connection.


Did this film have any similarity with any of your own cultural experiences (food, family, values, experiences, religion, symbols)? Please describe, compare and/or contrast with details/examples.

(100 original words minimum)

This movie also shows the various ways people portray their culture. Music and oral traditions are significant ways in which the characters in the movie expressed their cultures. In the fields music serves a purpose of bringing them together. This is a practice that I have seen in many occasions within my family. We sing whenever we get together as it binds us. In weddings there are certain songs that are distinct to that particular occasion just like the black community seems to have certain songs for worship and for working. Their songs also tend to have distinct features from the white slave-owners.


Would you recommend this film as a positive or realistic portrayal of this group? Please be specific and elaborate.Please support your opinion with details/examples. (100 original word minimum)

This film is a portrayal of things that took place in history. It is based on the diary of a slave, Solomon Northup, on whose life the main character is based. In this regard, it is judicious to state that it gives an apt portrayal of the events as it occurred and the presentation of this group based on the setting. However, it is prudent to note that the situations in the country have changed and slavery has been abolished. Besides, there is some aspect of equality between the races. Therefore, the film no longer portrays the current status of the group but a historical one.

September 25, 2023

History Sociology



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