Freedom takes many forms. There is personal freedom,
societal freedom, mental freedom, and physical freedom. Freedom is not
substantial, however might be accomplished through numerous self-encounters. In
the novels 12 Years a Slave and The Color Purple, freedom violence and racism
all play a very important role within the characters. Many like to argue that
racism is of the past and does not play a part in today’s society, however that
is untrue. Racism is alive, racism is not dead, and it is silently used to
bring the black nation down. Racism has been altered to be used in so many
ways, individual racism is an example of that. People tend to discriminate
others by saying things that are racist and argue that it is not racist because
they are expressing how they feel. Another example of this is systemic racism,
this is almost invisible within the society, this may be hard to detect at
times because it has become the norm. For example, black males constantly being
stopped by police because of the color of their skin and the fact that 58
percent of prisoners are black. In the novels 12 Years a Slave and The Color
Purple, racism is an important factor; but the loss of freedom and violence,
specifically domestic violence plays a more prominent role. Both main
characters of both novels struggle with slavery,  psychologically with and the hardships of
their daily life’s decisions. This paper will focus solely on the main
characters and how the loss of freedom impacts them both, as well as the
psychological state after captivity.

The narrative of Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave uncovers the understanding of dehumanization of
the male slave, female slave, and the mistreatment from the slave masters.
Slaves were dehumanized and treated more like animals than a human individual.
Male slaves, and female slaves were beaten, sold, auctioned and claimed like
articles. They were forced to work a great degree, and every day enduring
physical and psychological mistreatment and brutality. Solomon Northup depicts
the experience of being dehumanized in his narrative. No one is born racist, it
is simply a habit which is picked up. Solomon is lured from his home in
Saratoga Springs and drugged by two men he presumes that he could trust, Mr.
Brown and Mr. Hamilton. These two men are described “gentlemen of respectable
appearance”. Mr. Northup being kidnapped is the first indicator of his loss of
freedom. Him being stripped from his beliefs and all he has worked for. Solomon
experiences betrayal first hand when Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamilton helps to
capture him by drugging him against his will.

from such a painful trance, it was some time before I
could collect my thoughts. Where am I? what was the meaning of these chains?
Where were brown and Hamilton?… Then did the idea begin to break upon my
mind, at first dim and confused that I had been kidnapped. (Northup, 22)

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There is an obvious
difficulty in comprehending how one could be so evil as to fake a friendship
and then use it of a means of betrayal. Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamilton both
symbolize the sort of misrepresentation important to keep slavery in place and
the corruption of the white race in that time. In the present society racism
keeps on being a continuous issue. At the point when black people try to
educate concerning discrimination they’ve experienced, they are consistently
disregarded or looked down upon on for expressing a reality in their lives.
Today’s society is filled with narrow minded people who refuse to see past
their “color-blindness”, they refuse to see that systemic racism is a part of
our society and instead think of it as simply stating an opinion. 

A few years ago, I was checking into a hotel with a Black
male colleague. When he asked the white man behind the counter for our rooms,
the clerk ignored him and spoke to me. I was stunned. That evening, in talking
about the incident, my colleague was surprised that I was surprised; he assumed
that I knew that such treatment was routine for him. As I began to notice the
different ways we were treated in ordinary situations, I realized how
frequently he, and other colleagues of color, were treated as if they were
invisible while I was noticed and treated with respect. (Adams, 2)

Racism and slavery still
exists in our society today though it is invisible to the naked eye. Many have
and still do experience racism and may not understand how or why it is still

Recent news has been
brought to life of slave trades in Libya, which means there is a hundred
percent chance of it happening elsewhere else. ‘Racism is in fact built into
the foundation of U.S. society and that it has over time come to infuse all
aspects of it. It is present in our laws, our politics, our economy; in our
social institutions; and in how we think and act, whether consciously or
subconsciously. It’s all around us and inside of us.’ quotes Lisa Nicki. There will
be no change in this matter unless people recognize the faults in our society
today. “- the Black man is followed in stores, quoted a higher price by a car salesman,
patronized by job counselors about being lazy, and told that vacant apartments
are not available — as if they had no idea that racism is alive and well.”
(Adams, 1) It is always easier to ignore certain issues instead of addressing
them head on.


The Color Purple is a novel of freedom, Celie the main heroine in the
novel is a fourteen-year-old girl who is repeatedly raped and abused by her
step-father Alphonso. He at that point marries her off to Mr. _____ a man twice
her age, without her consent. Also, similarly to Mr. Northup she encounters her
loss of freedom when she is not permitted to settle on her own choices since
her dad decides for her. There was much racism and abuse amid that time,
particularly for black women. They were beaten and manhandled essentially in
light of their skin color and sexual orientation. Celie, a youthful black
woman, who experiences numerous hardships in the of light of that time period
including prejudice, abuse, and sexism yet she stays solid in her confidence in
God and is able to overcome these obstructions and yet demonstrates the
peaceful quality of a woman. The persecution of black women is extremely
obvious in The Color Purple, this is
demonstrated through the relationship between Celie and her Father Alphonso.
Alphonso rapes and beats Celie for years and manages to get her pregnant twice.
“I say God took it. He took it while I was sleeping. Kill it out there in the
woods. Kill this one too if he can.” (Walker 12) he kills the first child in
the woods and sell the other to a family in town. Though unfortunately, it is
not until later on in the novel where Celie learns that both babies belong to
her step father Alphonso and that her biological father has been lynched.
Learning the news impacts Celie’s life drastically and this prevents her from
trusting men for most of her life. “Young Celie knows only beatings and sexual
coldness before Shug arrives to teach her how to love.” (Abrams, 29) Celie
faces many struggles for a large portion of her life, she was not taught the
rights and wrongs. Celie’s younger sister Nettie is the root of her freedom,
she adores her sister and when she is taken away from her; Celie is lost. She
questions why life is the way it is and if it gets better. Shug, a female who
is introduced later on in the novel and is told to be Albert’s mistress. She
helps Celie in figuring out who she is as a woman and helps her feel beautiful
in her own skin. She also teaches Celie to stand up for herself and not allow
anyone to walk over her. “God is inside you and inside everything else. You
come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it.”
(Walker, 177) For the majority of the novel, Celie struggles with finding
herself because of the constant brutal treatment she endures. With God she is
able to grow as a character and believe that she does deserve a better life.
Celie changes for the betterment of herself and for God.


In the hands of the oppressor, freedom is something
earned not given. Alphonso abuses Celie for a very long time and this destroys
her. When one is abused this excessively, they will believe that they are
worthless and not try to stand up for themselves. For most of her life, Celie
believes what her stepfather thinks about her. When she is married off to Albert,
she is given the same treatment as Alphonso gives her. Celie’s marriage to
Albert is the finish of one episode of harsh savagery from her stepfather, but
however the start of another with of her new spouse, a widower who mishandles
Celie verbally, sexually and physically in any capacity he wishes. She
experiences forced sexual intercourse, which makes her think about her body as
something over which she has no control. “Most times I pretend I ain’t there.
He never know the difference. Never ast me how I feel nothing. Just do his business,
get off, go to sleep. Shug say, why Miss Celie, you make it sound like he is going
to the toilet on you. That what I feel like I say (Walker, 79). being forced
into sexual acts against her will, Celie is also experiencing a loss of
freedom. Once again not being able to stand up for herself while she is pushed
around by her husband. Many relationships in this time period was unhealthy due
to the male dominance, women often fell submissive and allowed it to happen because
they have no other choice. Celie is disrespected multiple times but is scared
to do anything about it.

The relationships between males and females are important in The
Color Purple and

some other works by Alice Walker Conflicts occur over the traditional male
qualities of power, dominance, and control and the female traits of submission,
obedience, and servitude. (Abrams, 29)

Black women of this
time period were treated with disrespect. similarly, to Celie, Eliza and Sofia
both experience racism when they both become nannies for two white families. Eliza
was the slave of Elisha Berry a rich man who impregnates her and chooses to let
her stay with him and raise their child together. Though when he becomes
deceased, she is sent off to a slave plantation where her children become
separated. Sofia on the other hand stays with a family close to her town and
experiences a lot of mistreatment. Unfortunately, in the end they are both
neglected and end up in the back. They suffer from constant abuse and mistreatment
“Wives is like Children,” he says, “You have to let ’em know who
got the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a sound beating” (Walker,
42). Abuse is just as much of a learnt behavior as racism. Domestic abuse was a
prominent issue and continues to be today. The encouragement from fathers to
sons that abusing their wife is a tolerable action is not ok, and sadly this
was the case in many relationships during this time.

            Slave narrative are known to provide
firsthand information about slavery. In writing, slaves would hope of shedding
some light on the cruelty they endure and the inhuman aspects of slavery. In
the household where the slave master and slave relationships are viewed, the
slave is a living property of the master. It will also look to recognize the
idea of sexual connections amongst slave masters and their slaves. Racism and
domestic abuse are closely tied when we speak of the sexual relationships
between slave masters and the female slaves. Slaves were viewed as animals and
endure a great deal of pain. They experience domestic violence and abuse on
their plantation on a daily basis. Women are raped continuously and manhandled
with no hope of ever leaving. Men were also raped by slave masters and forced
to have sexual intercourse with other female slaves in hopes of reproducing, so
the master can sell the babies to other slave masters. Though, despite this
fact, there were consensual sexual experience amongst masters and female slaves
and even long haul sentimental relationships, for example the relationship
between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, is known to exist. But some people
see these relationships as a means of power. In the novel 12 years a slave, upon arrival at a new slave plantation, Solomon
is introduced to the other slaves. Patsey among the slaves is the most fearless
yet she was abused the most.

Patsey wept oftener, and suffered more, than any of her companions. She had
been literally excoriated…because it had fallen to her lot to be the slave of a
licentious master and a jealous mistress. She shrunk before the lustful eyes of
one, and was in danger even of her life at the hands of the other, and between
the two, she was indeed accursed. (Northup, 166)

Patsey is treated
like a complete animal between both slave owners. She is raped and hated for
being raped like the has the choice to say yes or no. Patsey loses her
personal, mental and physical freedom at the hands of Epps and mistress Epps.
She is maliciously mangled and intertwined and thrown away like garbage. The
most challenging part of her situation would be the psychological issues she
experiences after each trauma, hoping it is the last time she has to experience
that kind of abuse. Initially maltreatment of this sort may lead one to taking
their own lives. Leading form this issue the second most unfortunate and
disturbing issue. The non-recognition for the slaves who work hard twenty four
hours per day.

is different is the amount of work it takes to reach a comparable level of
success. People of color often have the sense that they have to do “twice
as much to go half as far.” A colleague once said to me, “I feel like
I have to be twice as good as to accomplish anything as a Black man, and even
if I’m in a strong position, I know that some whites will not see my
strengths.” In addition, work is made harder simply by the daily
experience of subtle and overt racism. (Abrams, 5)

In todays society
just as it were in the slave times, credit is not always fully given to black
people. Many argue that they feel as if they do not accomplish anything because
they are not given credit for all their hard work. Fifty eight percent of
prisoners are black males, some of them not deserving of their imprisonment. It
is a constant struggle for the black male to strive and excel in his full
potential if he is constantly stereotyped not given the same privileges as the
white males and females.

            ‘Chronic emotional stress is known
to have negative physical and mental health effects. Racism and racial
discrimination create a unique environment of pervasive, additional stress for
people of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.2 These repeated
traumatic interactions can result in reduced self-esteem and internalized
hatred as they’re forced into conservative and apologetic thinking.’ Quotes
Michael Compton in his article about determinants of mental health. Things have
changed a great deal since the time period of slavery, and seeing as technology
is so advanced we are able to understand a lot more about mental health and how
it affects us. Unfortunately, for Solomon, Patsey and Celie racism and abuse
were something they were forced to endure. Patsey experiences many different
forms of trauma and yet she still stays strong. Celie experiences many
hardships through her life journey but the hope that God will one day save her
was the only thing that helps her get past her obstructions. “I couldn’t understand why us have life at all if
all it can do is make you feel bad” (Walker, 246) Although Celie questions
her existence multiple times, she eventually builds up enough courage to kill
her husband and escape from his ‘prison’. Reuniting with her sister in the end
is her salvation. 


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