English 1, Lesson 120 – Northup’s and Eliza’s Responses to Separation from Their Children

Write 500 words on this topic: “Describe the differences between Northup’s response to separation from his children and Eliza’s response to separation from her children.”

While I do not have children, I can still understand how hard it must be to lose a loved one. From what I hear from my parents, it is even worse to lose a child. Soloman Northup, author of his autobiography 12 Years a Slave, was separated from his children when he was kidnapped and illegally sold into slavery. Eliza, a slave woman who was owned by the same slave trader that owned Northup, was also separated from her children, but had a very different response to the tragedy than Northup did. There were many differences between these two and their separation from their children.

The first difference between their responses is how they portrayed their grief. Northup was upset, of course, but only cried and prayed in private. He was still able to function and work well, despite his grief. The same cannot be said for Eliza, whose grief consumed her. She spent most of her time crying for her children, or thinking about them. She talked of them often, and sometimes even talked to them, as if they were there! Eliza was so overwhelmed by her grief that she could not work properly. She was only comforted by her delusions of talking to her children, and by sleep.

The other difference to take into consideration is the circumstances from which they were separated from their kids. Northup was a freeman living in New York with his family. He was talented at playing violin, which got him into trouble. Some men lured him with false pretenses and kidnapped him, selling him into slavery. Throughout his 12 years in bondage, Northup still had hope to be reunited with his children, who were presumably still free and still living in New York. Eliza, however, was not so lucky. Her children were also slaves and were each sold to complete strangers. She would most likely never see them again, and would not know what happened to them. They could be beaten, sold to tyrants, even killed, and Eliza would be none the wiser. This of course made Eliza extremely upset, and she could not contain her anguish. I think that her overwhelming grief was justified, since she would never see her kids again.

Eliza and Northup both experienced the tragedy of being separated from their children, and they both felt grieved. The differences between their responses were how they handled their sorrow and the circumstances from which they were separated from their children. Northup’s children were most likely still free, and while he was upset about being away from them, he still had hope of returning to them. Eliza’s children were in bondage, and were sold away, never to be seen again. She let her grief consume her and spent all of her time thinking of her children, talking about them, and talking to them, even though they were not present.

Published by Sofia Hussain

I like reading, writing, and gaming. I love dogs and chickens. I can play some songs on piano. I can speak like a tourist in Spanish, and I hope to be fluent someday. Linguistics, accents, and nonverbal communication fascinate me greatly. I hope to learn more about them.

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