1841. Black man Solomon Northup lives as a free man in Saratoga, New York with his wife and two children, he earning a living as a violinist. On what he believes will be an out of town music gig, he is instead drugged and sold into slavery in the deep south under the name Platt as that is for who the slave trader has papers. Initially incredulous to his plight, he decides that cooperation is the best way to survive. He sees few others in the same situation as him, but slowly he is separated from those with who he has built support. This process continues over his life as a slave, as he is at the mercy of whoever his master at the time and his master's associates who work on their own priorities. He finds that cooperation generally gets one nowhere and sometimes can get one into further trouble due to jealousy. At times, he cannot take the emotional abuse, his actions which lead to physical abuse. There are also times where he thinks he can trust someone to get himself out of his plight only to be turned upon instead. But as bad as his situation is, he finds that others are in much more dire straits, they who will do anything to get themselves out of a life they feel is not worth living.
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