Solomon Northup did an excellent job in his autobiography. He was born a free man and remained one for nearly thirty years until he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. As a freeman he had the ability to read so as a slave he was a rare person since most slaves were prevented from being able to read or write. This is how he made his story. Northup
The other main contrast I found in this book was between two of his masters: Ford and Epps. Ford was his first master, and he was very kind, as far as slave masters go. He was a Christian, with strong beliefs. He read the Bible to his slaves constantly, and encouraged Northup to read it as well as the others (though most of the slaves in the South couldn’t read, so it was mainly Northup who he encouraged in this way). He was a just man, who did not like to use violence on his slaves unless they had done something worth a whipping. This said, he was still okay with slavery, the one thing that reminds you that he was still a slave owner, no matter how wonderful he was.
We are then shown Epps, who was Northup’s owner for about ten years. Epps was a cruel man who lived for the discomfort and pain of his slaves. He whipped and beat them constantly, and for no good reason. This was hard to read at times, because Northup was very descriptive of all the unjust flogging, whipping and beatings that Epps inflicted upon his slaves. Epps was not a good man, he had been bred to be this way.
So Northup uses the contrast of something like the difference between positive and negative sanctions, the act of rewarding good motives or punishing bad motives. I liked this contrast given the difference between a good slave owner and a bad one from a slave point of view.