Twelve Years a Slave Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. In one phrase, describe how Solomon perceived William Ford to be of value to him.

2. What did Solomon learn while spending time in the yard outside Williams' Slave Pen?

3. What one element stood out when Tibeats set about to punish Solomon?

4. What could be said about the type of access that Solomon and the other slaves had with respect to the yard that surrounded Williams' Slave Pen?

5. What did the fact that William Ford's slave, Walton had worked for Ford all of his life and spoke well about him say about Ford?

Short Essay Questions

1. In Chapter 7 of the book, how was Solomon's new master, John M. Tibeats different from William Ford?

2. How did Solomon feel that the exterior of Williams' Slave Pen in Washington could be viewed in Chapter 3 of the book?

3. In Chapter 2 of the book, how did Merrill Brown and Abram Hamilton persuade Solomon to travel to New York with them?

4. In the opening Chapter of the book, what did Solomon Northrup acknowledge as a contributing factor in his decision to write his book?

5. How did Solomon prove to be a resourceful type of person for his master, William Ford in Chapter 7 of the book?

6. In Chapter 2 of the book, why did Solomon decide to leave Saratoga Springs and head for New York?

7. In Chapter 6 of the book, what did Freeman's customers do to examine his merchandise before making a purchase?

8. In Chapter 6 of the book, what type of slave did Freeman's customers want to buy?

9. In Chapter 6 of the book, how did slave dealer Theoplilus Freeman treat the slaves whom he owned?

10. In Chapter 8 of the book, how did Mr. Chapin protect Solomon from being hurt or murdered by John Tibeats?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In Chapter 15 of the book, according to Author Solomon Northrup, during Christmastime in Bayou Bœuf, the slaves were not the only ones who showed a change in attitude. In describing a scene at the Christmas Supper hosted by one of the planters, Northrup wrote:

“White people in great numbers assemble to witness the gastronomical enjoyments”.

Also, Northrup wrote about the fact that slaves were not expected to work during Christmastime, noting that they were even given passes to visit friends in the area; and he stated that whips were not mentioned, much less used during that time.

Discuss the factor(s) that may have contributed to the change in attitude on the part of the planters toward the slaves during Christmastime. Was their attitude change based solely on the fact that it was Christmastime? If yes, how could you tell? If no, what other factor(s) contributed to the planters’ change in attitude?

Also discuss: Did the planters change their attitude toward the slaves at Christmastime because it made them feel good? Or were they making the change in attitude during that time because they knew that it made the slaves feel good? What was likely to be the planters’ reason for holding the Christmas Supper for the slaves? Gratitude or guilt? Regardless of your answer, include reason(s) to support your view.

Essay Topic 2

Close to the end of Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon was upset about the role that Burch had played in casting him into the throes of slavery. In relation to Burch being acquitted of any wrongdoing in the matter, Solomon wrote:

“I took pains to seek him out, to confront him in a court of law, charging him with the crime of kidnapping; and the only motive that impelled me to this step, was a burning sense of the wrong he had inflicted upon me, and a desire to bring him to justice. He was acquitted, in the manner, and by such means as have been described. A human tribunal has permitted him to escape; but there is another and a higher tribunal, where false testimony will not prevail, and where I am willing, so far at least as these statements are concerned, to be judged at last.”

Define the terms, “human tribunal” and “higher tribunal” as Solomon used them in his writing. Explain what you understood the terms to mean, why they were likely to have special meaning for Solomon; whether and how either or both terms tied into a particular theme in the story — and how those connections if any, occurred.

Essay Topic 3

At the age of 33, Solomon's name was changed to "Platt" by slave trader, Theophilus Freeman. It was an unwanted name that Solomon was forced to keep during the twelve years that he was enslaved; and it nearly kept him from being located by Lawyer Henry B. Northrup as his days in slavery were about to come to an end.

Discuss whether the name, "Platt" affected Solomon throughout his life as a slave. If it affected him, explain how; and how he coped with or adjusted to having to live by "Platt" during the time of his enslavement.

If in the alternative in your estimation, the name change did not affect him, explain why that was; and how you were able to tell.

(see the answer keys)

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