12 Years a Slave Quotes

(Page 2)

Page   1   2   THE NOVEL


[looking at Patsey]
Edwin Epps: Damned Queen. Born and bred to the field. Nigger among niggers, and God give her to me. A lesson in the reward of righteous livin’. All be observant to that. All!
[he walks over to stand in front of the slaves again]12-years-a-slave-11
Edwin Epps: Now, Treach. Now speak.
Treach: One hundred thirty-eight pounds for Phebe.
Edwin Epps: Hit one forty five yesterday. Pull her out.
[Phebe takes a step forward]
Treach: Two hundred six pounds for George.
Edwin Epps: How much he pick yesterday?
Treach: Two twenty-nine.
Edwin Epps: Get him out.
Treach: Come on, get.
[George and Phebe start walking out; to Solomon]
Treach: Come on. Come on, boy! Move!
[Solomon hesitates for a moment before going to join George and Phebe, we then hear them in the background being whipped mercilessly]


[later that night in the slave quarters, Solomon is unable to sleep due to the pain from the whiplashes on his back, suddenly Epps enters and rouses everyone from their sleep by stomping on the floor]
Edwin Epps: Get up! We dance tonight! Get up! Get your fiddle, Platt! Get up! Come on! Get, get, get, get, get!
[everyone starts rushing out of the room, Solomon goes to get his violin]
Edwin Epps: Come on, Platt! Come on!
[at the house, as Solomon plays the violin and another slave plays the flute, the other slaves are made to dance while Epps and his wife watch with Epps clapping along]
Edwin Epps: Come on! Where’s your merriment? Move your feet!
[as the slaves dance Epps seems to be fascinated by Patsey and watches her dance when suddenly Epps’s wife throws a crystal decanter at Patsey’s face making her yell in pain]
Mistress Epps: Sell her!
Edwin Epps: What’s all this?
Mistress Epps: You will sell the negress!12-years-a-slave-10
Edwin Epps: Sell little Pats?
[we hear Patsey crying in the background]
Edwin Epps: She pick with more vigor than any other nigger. Choose another to go.
Mistress Epps: No other. Sell her.
Edwin Epps: I will not.
Mistress Epps: You will remove that black bitch from this property, or I’ll take myself back to Cheneyville.
Edwin Epps: Back to that hog’s trough where I found you? Do not set yourself up against Patsey, my dear. Cause I will rid myself of you well before I do away with her.
[Epps’s wife walks off; to the slaves as they stare in silence]
Edwin Epps: What you looking at?!
[to himself]
Edwin Epps: Damned woman!
[he goes to pour himself a drink]
Edwin Epps: I won’t have my mood spoiled. I will not. Dance!
[Patsey is dragged off the floor]
Edwin Epps: Dance, I said!
[the music starts playing and the slaves start to dance again]
Edwin Epps: Come on! Pick it up, Platt. Play that fiddle, boy! Wooh!


[one day as the slaves make their way from the field after finishing working Epps’s wife calls to Solomon]
Mistress Epps: Platt?
Solomon Northup: Yes, Mistress.
[he walks over to her]
Mistress Epps: Can you find your way to Bartholomew’s?
Solomon Northup: I can, ma’am.
[she holds out a piece of paper]
Mistress Epps: This is a list of goods and sundries. You will take it to be filled and return immediately.
[Solomon takes the paper and looks at the list]
Mistress Epps: Take your tag. Tell Bartholomew to add it to our debt.
Solomon Northup: Yes, Mistress.
[as Solomon turns to leave]
Mistress Epps: Where are you from, Platt?
Solomon Northup: I told you.
Mistress Epps: Tell me again.
Solomon Northup: Washington.
Mistress Epps: Who were your Master?
Solomon Northup: Master name were Freeman.
Mistress Epps: Was he a learned man?
Solomon Northup: I suppose so.
Mistress Epps: He learn you to read?
Solomon Northup: A word here or there, but I have no understanding of the written text.
Mistress Epps: Don’t trouble yourself with it. Same as the rest, Master bought you here to work, that’s all. Any more will earn you a hundred lashes.
[Solomon looks at her for a moment before turning to leave]


[as Solomon walks through the woods to make his way to the store it suddenly dawns on him that this is his chance to escape and he takes a different turn in the woods and starts to run until he comes across a group of patrollers who have got hold of two slaves]
Patroller: Come here, boy.
Solomon Northup: Solomon hesitates
Patroller: Come on.
[Solomon walks over to the patroller and he checks Solomon’s tag which is around his neck]
Patroller: Where are you going, boy?
Solomon Northup: On my way to Bartholomew’s, sent by Mistress Epps.
Patroller: You best get there then. Get there quick.
[Solomon starts to walk slowly past him when the patroller suddenly uses his foot to push him, then as Solomon walks off he watches in horror as the two slaves are hung]


[in the store Solomon waits as the Bartholomew gets the order that was on the list from Epps’s wife]
Mr. Bartholomew: Alright, boy. Here it is, silk thread here. And tobacco, two ounces, foolscap paper.
[Solomon places everything in his bag and makes it back to the house at the plantation]
Mistress Epps: Any trouble?
[Solomon hands the bag to Epps’s wife]
Solomon Northup: No, ma’am. No trouble.
[Epps’s wife watches Solomon as he turns and leaves]


[Solomons runs over to a nearby plantation owned by Shaw]
Master Shaw: Platt Epps, good Sunday morning.
Solomon Northup: Good morning, Master Shaw. Master send me to retrieve Patsey. May I approach?
Master Shaw: You may.
[Solomon makes his way to the front porch of the house where Patsey is having tea with Mistress Shaw, who was once a slave herself]
Solomon Northup: Excuse me, Mistress Shaw.
Mistress Shaw: Nigger Platt.
Solomon Northup: Patsey, Master wishes you to return.
Patsey: It’s the Sabbath day, I’s free to roam.
Solomon Northup: Master sent me running to fetch you, and said no time should be wasted.
Mistress Shaw: Drink of tea?
Solomon Northup: Thank you, Mistress, but I don’t dare.
Mistress Shaw: Would you known Master Epps’s consternation to be any lessened with your timely return? Ain’t it his constant condition? Sit. Sit and drink the tea that offered.
[Solomon takes a seat at the table and the house slave brings him some tea]


Mistress Shaw: What be Epps’s concern?
Solomon Northup: I’d rather not say.
Mistress Shaw: Oh, a little gossip on the Sabbath be fine. All things in moderation.
Solomon Northup: As you are aware, Master Epps is a man of hard countenance. You know he has ill feeling toward your husband.
Mistress Shaw: He do.
Solomon Northup: Master Epps has somehow come to believe that Master Shaw… something of a lothario. A misguided belief, no doubt.
Mistress Shaw: No doubt, if not born out of truth itself.
[she waves to her husband]
Solomon Northup: I meant no disrespect.
Mistress Shaw: He ain’t heard you.
Solomon Northup: I meant no disrespect to you, Mistress.
[she laughs]
Mistress Shaw: Got no cause to worry for my sensibilities. I ain’t felt the end of a lash in more years 12-years-a-slave-12than I can recall, I ain’t worked a field neither. Where once I served, now I have others servin’ me. The cost to my current existence be Master Shaw, broadcasting his affections and me enjoyin’ the pantomime of his fidelity. If that what keep me from cotton pickin’ niggers, that what it be. A small and reasonable price to be paid for sure.
[she turns to Patsey]
Mistress Shaw: I known what it like to be the object of Master’s predilections and peculiarities. A lusty visit in the night, or a visitation with the whip. Take comfort, Patsey, Good Lord will manage Epps. In His own time, Good Lord will manage ’em all. The curse of the Pharaohs but a poor example of what wait for the plantation class.
[she smiles and looks at Solomon and Patsey]
Mistress Shaw: This is nice.


[as Solomon and Patsy return to the the plantation, Epps notices them as he sits on the porch drinking]
Edwin Epps: Pats. Patsey!
[quietly to Patsey]
Solomon Northup: Do not look in his direction. Continue on.
[Patsey continues walking away and Solomon turns to Epps]
Edwin Epps: Patsey!
Solomon Northup: Found her, Master. And brought her back, just as instructed.
Edwin Epps: What did you just now tell her? What did you say to Pats?
[Epps walks towards Solomon]
Solomon Northup: No words were spoken, none of consequence.
Edwin Epps: You’re a liar. You’re a damn liar. I saw you talking with her. Tell me.
Solomon Northup: I cannot speak of what did not occur.
[suddenly Epps goes to grab Solomon]
Edwin Epps: I’ll cut your black throat!
[Solomon manages to avoid Epps’s grasp and starts backing away from him]
Solomon Northup: Master!
Edwin Epps: You come here.
Solomon Northup: Master Epps…
Edwin Epps: I said come here!
Solomon Northup: I brought her back, just like you…
[suddenly Epps starts chasing after Solomon]
Edwin Epps: Come here!
[Solomon stops a little distance away from Epps]
Solomon Northup: Master!
[Epps tries to grab Solomon but fails again]
Solomon Northup: I got her, just as instructed!
[Solomon tries to put further distance between them]
Solomon Northup: Master Epps!
Edwin Epps: You stay away from Pats, boy.


[as Epps starts chasing Solomon again he ends up in the pigs pen]
Solomon Northup: Master Epps.
[Epps goes to chase after Solomon but he trips on the wooden gate, falls flat on his face and starts laughing]
Edwin Epps: It’s the Lord’s day. Ain’t nothing Christian in us carrying on like this.
[he extends his hand to Solomon]
Edwin Epps: I concede to you. In the name of valor, help your master to his feet.
[cautiously Solomon moves closer to him and goes to help Epps when suddenly Epps attacks him]
Edwin Epps: I’m gonna kill you!
Solomon Northup: Master!
[they are then interrupted by Epps’s wife]
Mistress Epps: What’s the fuss?
Solomon Northup: Master Epps believed Patsey and me to be in conversation when we were not. I tried to explain, but it’s led to all this.
[to Epps]
Mistress Epps: What is it? You can’t remain the Sabbath without her under your eye?
Edwin Epps: Hold a moment…
Mistress Epps: You are a no-account bastard. A filthy, godless heathen. My bed is too holy for you to share.
Edwin Epps: What’s he been telling you?
Mistress Epps: Of your misbegotten ways.
Edwin Epps: And he would know what of anything? I ain’t even spoken with him today. You lying nigger, Platt. Have l?
[Solomon doesn’t respond]
Edwin Epps: Have l?
[Solomon looks away without responding]
Edwin Epps: There. There’s all the truth he got.
[Epps starts walking back to the house]
Edwin Epps: Damn nigger.


[late at night, Epps sneaks into the slave quarters, Solomon hears him going to Patsey, we then see Epps raping Patsey as she lies still and unresponsive until he finishes]
Edwin Epps: Patsey.
[she doesn’t respond and suddenly Epps strikes her in the face in anger, when she still doesn’t respond, he starts to strangle her but then stops, begins to cry and then gets off her and walks off]


[Solomon is at the store collecting more items for Epps’s wife when he notices the foolscap of paper, on the way back to the plantation he quickly takes one sheet of paper and hides it; later at the house the slaves are being forced to dance for Epps as Solomon plays the violin]
Mistress Epps: A moment from the dancing. Come sample what I baked for y’all.
[the house slave offers pastries from a tray to slaves and each slave takes one]
Slave #1: Thank you, Mistress.
Slave #2: Thank you, Mistress.
Slave #3: Thank you, Mistress.
Slave #4: Thank you, Mistress.
Slave #5: Thank you, Mistress.
[when it comes to Patsey turn]12-years-a-slave-14
Mistress Epps: There’ll be none for you, Patsey.
[Patsey just turns her face; to Epps]
Mistress Epps: You see that? You see that look of insolence she give me?
Edwin Epps: I seen nothing but her turn away.
Mistress Epps: Are you blind or ignorant? It was hot, hateful scorn. It filled that black face. You tell me you didn’t see it, it’s because you choose not to look, or are you saying I lie?
Edwin Epps: Whatever it was, it passed.
Mistress Epps: Is that how you are with the niggers? Lettin’ every ill thought fester inside ’em? Look at ’em. They foul with it. They foul with their hate. You let it be, it’s gonna come back to us in the dark of night. You want that? You want them black animals leave us gut like pigs in our own sleep?
[Epps doesn’t respond]
Mistress Epps: Oh. You are manless. A damn eunuch if there ever was. If you won’t stand for me, I pray you’d at least be a credit to your own kind and beat every foul thought from ’em.
[Epps doesn’t do anything which makes Epps’s angry, so she turns, walks over to Patsey and drives her nails across Patsey’s face making her scream in pain]
Mistress Epps: Beat it from ’em!
[Epps’s gets up, goes to Patsey and drags her out as she cries; to the slaves]
Mistress Epps: Eat. Fill yourselves. And then we dance.
[Solomon and all the other slaves are stood in shocked silence]
Mistress Epps: I said, eat.


[late at night in the slave quarters Patsey tries to wake Solomon]
Patsey: Platt. Platt, you awake?
[Solomon wakes and looks at Patsey]
Solomon Northup: I am.
Patsey: I have a request, an act of kindness.12-years-a-slave-13
[Patsey gives Solomon a ring]
Patsey: I secreted it from the Mistress.
Solomon Northup: Return it.
Patsey: It yours, Platt.
Solomon Northup: For what cause?
Patsey: All I ask, end my life. Take my body to the margin of the swamp. Take me by the throat, hold me low in the water until I still and without life. Bury me in a lonely place of dying.
Solomon Northup: I will do no such thing.
[he throws the ring back at Patsey]
Solomon Northup: The gory detail with which you speak.
Patsey: I thought on it long and hard.
Solomon Northup: It is melancholia, nothing more. How can you fall into such despair?
Patsey: How can you not know? I ain’t got no comfort in this life. If I can’t buy mercy from you, I’ll beg it.
Solomon Northup: There are others. Beg them.
Patsey: I’m begging you!
Solomon Northup: Why? Why would you consign me to damnation with such an ungodly request?
Patsey: There is God here! God is merciful and he forgive merciful acts. Won’t be no hell for you. Do it. Do what I ain’t got the strength to do myself.
[she places her hand on his chest and he pushes it away in anger, he turns from her, lies down and hears Patsey crying]


[we see that Epps cotton crops have been destroyed by insects]
Edwin Epps: It’s a plague.
Treach: It’s cotton worm.
Edwin Epps: It’s a plague. It’s damn biblical. Two seasons God done sent a plague to smite me. What I done that God hates me so?
[he looks over to the slaves picking cotton in the field]
Edwin Epps: It’s that Godless lot. They brought this on me. I bring ’em God’s word and heathens they are, they brung me God’s scorn.
[we see Epps riding his horse through the cotton field whipping the slaves as he rides past them]
Edwin Epps: Damn! Damn you! Damn all you all!


[Epps arrives in his carraige with some of his slaves at Judge Turner’s plantation]
Edwin Epps: Judge.
Judge Turner: Mr. Epps. I am deeply saddened to hear about your misfortune.
[Epps gets off his carriages goes over to Turner and shakes his hand]
Edwin Epps: Your price don’t reflect your concern.
[Solomon and somes slaves are sat in the back of the carriage]
Edwin Epps: Listen up. You’re Judge Turner’s for the season, more if need be, until my crops return. You all bring no disrespect to me, don’t bring no biblical plagues to him, you hear? Or I’ll take it out on your skin. Get out.
[we then return to the opening scene of the film, where Solomon is cutting sugar cane then later decides to use the juice of the blackberries from his dinner to write a letter but fails]


[Solomon stands on the porch of Turner’s house looking despondant]
Zachary: Get off the porch. You ain’t supposed to be on the porch. Get off the porch.
[Solomon goes down the steps and sees Turner exit the house]
Judge Turner: Platt, is it?
Solomon Northup: Yes, sir.
Judge Turner: You cultivate cane previously?
Solomon Northup: No, sir, I have not.
Judge Turner: It comes to you quite naturally. Are you educated?
Solomon Northup: No, sir. Niggers are hired to work, not read or write.
Judge Turner: You play the fiddle.
Solomon Northup: Yes, sir. Yes, I do.
Judge Turner: Willard Yarney, a planter up the bayou, celebrates his anniversary in a three weeks time. I’ll hold out your name to him. What you earn is yours to keep.
Solomon Northup: Yes, sir.
Judge Turner: Mind yourself, Platt.
[Turner walks back up to the house, we then see Solomon scratching the names of his wife and children, Anne, Margaret, Alonzo, onto the edge of his violin, later we see Solomon playing his violin at a fancy dress party looking hopeless]


[as the season ends Solomon and the rest of the slaves walk back to Epps’s plantation, Epps stands in the drive watching them]
Edwin Epps: Woh. Joyous day. Joyous day. Dark times is behind us. Clean livin’ and prayer done lifted the plague. As thick and white as New England snow. Now my niggers is returned to me.
[looking at Solomon]
Edwin Epps: Heard Judge Turner gave you favor. Did you beguile him, Platt, with your slick nigger ways? Well, you won’t stand idle, boy. Not on my land. Much work to do!
[Solomon and the slaves start walking towards the slave quarters]
Edwin Epps: Days of old long since, huh?
[Solomon walks past Patsey and notices her bloody eye indicating her torture at the hands of Epps and his wife continues]
Edwin Epps: Joyous. Joyous, indeed! Wooh!
[Epps picks up a small slave girl and holds her]
Edwin Epps: Let’s go find something sweet for you. Hmm?
[he starts walking up to the house with the girl]
Slave Girl: Mm-hmm. Candy.
Edwin Epps: Candy?


[a the slaves pick cotton in the field they sing]
Slave Boy: Oh, pick this cotton.
Slaves: Pick this cotton.
Slave Boy: Oh, pick this cotton.
Slaves: Oh, pick this cotton.
Older Female Slave: Man ain’t mean, boys.
[we see the slaves are joined by a white laborer, Armsby, trying to pick cotton]
Slaves: Man, ain’t mean.
Older Female Slave: Oh, man ain’t mean, boys.
Slaves: Man ain’t mean.
Older Female Slave: Oh, work this cotton.
Slaves: Work this cotton.
Older Female Slave: Oh, work this cotton.
Slaves: Work this cotton.
Older Female Slave: Oh, work ain’t hard, boys.
Slaves: Work ain’t hard.


[at the end of the day each worker’s cotton basket is weighed]
Edwin Epps: George.
Treach: One hundred and eighty pounds.
Edwin Epps: Patsey.
Treach: Five hundred and twenty pounds for Patsey.
Edwin Epps: That’s my girl. Don’t ever let me down. Platt?
Treach: One hundred sixty pounds.
Edwin Epps: Armsby?
Treach: Sixty-four pounds.
Edwin Epps: A good day’s labor would average two hundred pounds.
[Armsby takes a step forward]
Armsby: Yes, sir.
[Epps grabs Solomon shirt to pull him out of the line; to Armsby]
Edwin Epps: I’m sure in time you’ll develop as a picker. But it takes effort, boy. Put some damn effort into it.
[Epps pushes Armsby back into line, clearly not intending to give him the same punishment as he does to the slaves]
Armsby: Yes, sir.
Edwin Epps: Take ’em out. Get to whipping.
[Solomon and the other slaves turn to walk out]


[in the slave quarters Armsby tends to Solomon’s wounds on his back from the whipping he’d received earlier]
Armsby: It’s a tragedy. How does such come to pass? Working a field and picking cotton like a lowly hand. I’m of a damn sight better station. I worked as an overseer, you know.
Solomon Northup: I did not know, sir.
Armsby: Not “sir.” Just Armsby. I’m not owed more than any other in the field.
Solomon Northup: How did you arrive at such a place, if I may ask?
Armsby: Ask, it’s just conversation. I became a little too dependent on the whiskey, a little too undependable on the job. Now before you say I’m just a sorry drunkard, let me state my case. As reliable employment as overseeing is, it is no easy chore on the spirit. I say, no man of conscious can take the lash to another human day in, day out without shredding at his own self. Takes him to a place where he either makes excuses within his mind to be unaffected, or he finds some way to trample his guilty sensations. So, I trampled. With frequency.
[Armsby finishes tending to Solomon’s back and comes over to sit opposite him]
Armsby: I gave in to tales of wealth and prosperity. But such profitable outcomes are reserved for plantation masters. It’s the lot of the rest of us to serve. Now, all I want is to earn a decent wage and get myself home.
[Armsby gets up and walks off]


[late at night Solomon sneaks out and goes to a nearby tree and retrieves his earnings he’d received from playing his violin at the fancy dress party, he goes to Armsby’s shack and shows him a coin]
Solomon Northup: The proceeds of my fiddling performances. Just a few picayunes, but all I have in the world. I promise them to you if you will do me the favor I require. But I beg you not to expose me if you cannot grant the request.
Armsby: Uh…what…what is it you ask?
Solomon Northup: First, your word, sir.
Armsby: On my honor.
Solomon Northup: It’s a simple enough request. I only ask that you deposit a letter at the post office in Marksville and that you keep the action an inviolable secret forever. A patron is what I require, sir.
[Armsby considers the request for a moment]
Armsby: I’ll do it. And I’ll accept whatever payment’s offered. To assist you, I put my own self at risk. I will do so, but fair compensation is all I ask.
[Solomon gives him the money]
Armsby: Draw up your letter. We’ll meet again, in two days?
Solomon Northup: In two days. Thank you.
[Solomon shakes Armsby’s hand and leaves the shack, we then see Solomon make himself a quill out of wood and start to draft his letter]


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Total Quotes: 72



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