12 Years a Slave Concludes

SPOILERS only if you have no idea how this book concludes. You do realize that Solomon Northup would not be able to write his memoirs if he remained a slave.

After 12 years, Solomon Northup meets a good man (There must have been a real scarcity of them in the South of the 1840s, if it took him 12 years, just sayin’). That this man is white is a given, because if he were not white, he would never have been able to effect Solomon’s release. Second, this man, whose name was Bass, was played by Brad Pitt in the movie version, so right away you think: HERO!

Solomon decides to trust Bass with his story: the fact that he was kidnapped by slavers and brought south. And Bass decides to write a letter to Solomon’s family in Saratoga. And then Solomon’s family has to find an agent, who has to receive permission (from the court) to locate Solomon.

The letter from Bass arives in Saratoga in August, but it’s not until December that anything is done about it. Solomon’s family sends an agent, Henry Northup, south to search for Solomon (Self is mighty confused that the agent who is looking for him has the same last name as Solomon himself, but doesn’t appear to be a relation) Unfortunately, Solomon Northup is not easy to locate, because for the last 12 years, he was known as Platt the slave.

Finally, someone decides to focus more on the letter-writer, Bass, than on the slave in question, and they find that the letter Bass posted was from this particular place, and so the slave in question must also be from that place, and now they look for Bass, to question him, but Bass moves around a lot because he’s a kind of journeyman carpenter. At long last, they find him in some place while he’s in between jobs, and they start talking to him, asking him where he’s worked the last year, and finally they ask him if he wrote the letter concerning Solomon Northup.

And Bass first says, “Excuse me, that’s none of your business.”

Only after more conversation does Bass decide to admit that he in fact wrote the letter. After his admission, he says, “I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I am the man who wrote the letter.”

It comes out so roundabout, you realize how much is at stake (for Bass as well as for Solomon). This is really a fantastic narrative.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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