Lesson 130. “How could I adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts?”

“How could I adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts?”


In this essay, I will be discussing and answering the essay question above, which asks the question”How could I adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts?”

Main Body

In Solomon Northup’s’ famous autobiography, Up from Slavery, he uses several contrasts to make various different points. As a kidnapped slave he witnessed slavery in its true form, which was a evil and corrupt system that destroyed the lives of thousands of black African-Americans.

Perhaps the largest contrast that Northup makes in his autobiography, the difference between a kind master and an evil one. When Northup was first introduced to slavery on a plantation, he was actually bought by a kind master who did not treat his slaves badly.

In contrast, Northup’s next few masters are inhumanly brutal, whipping their slaves for the tiniest infractions and generally misusing their slaves. Northup contrasts the ‘good’ master and the evil master very well, making it obvious to the reader how greatly these two types of master differed.

I have a feeling that Northup’s contrast technique is not that hard to adopt. I think his technique basically consists of using very good writing skills to describe two different situations and then contrast them. Using the earlier example of the masters, Northup describes the horror of serving under a bad master in such gruesome detail that the reader is shocked. Then Northup also describes the good master, who is still the master of the slaves, but treats them much better than the evil master does.

When those two are contrasted together, using Northup’s excellent literary abilities make a striking juxtaposition. I think probably the two key to contrasting like Northup, is to write your two contrasting situations in a way that grips the reader to the point where they can very clearly see a contrast. Being able to describe something well is a tricky literary skill but if you master it, you can convince your readers much easier.


To summarise the essay, this essay was about how I could adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts and what that looked like in Northup’s autobiography. Northup uses strong contrasts in his autobiography to expose slavery as the evil system it is. His technique consists of using literary tools and two good scenarios to contrast them together in a way that grabs the attention of the reader.


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