Creating an anthology is complicated because the author has to find texts that fit into a specific topic of emphasis he wants for his collection. Prothero had many novels and speeches to choose from and he did a great job in choosing writings that merged with his principles about America. The film 12 Years a Slave is based on the adaptation of Solomon Northup’s narrative in his book Twelve Years a Slave. The protagonist, Northup, was born into freedom, then abducted and sold into slavery. Due to the fact Northup was born a free man and then forced into slavery offers the audience different insights into slavery. Northup gets to experience both freedom up north and slavery in the south. Based on Prothero’s criteria, I believe that the film 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, rightfully belongs in Prothero’s The American Bible: Whose America is this? because it perfectly fits and follows all the criteria Prothero used to select the works in his anthology.
Prothero’s criteria for his collection of novels and speeches can be classified as choosing controversial, historic, famous and hopeful writings that define America. Prothero mentions in his introduction how he aims only to include books and speeches that have the ability “to generate controversy and conversation”(7). Prothero aims to include works that are important for Americans and are “value[d] enough to fight about”(6). Considering this book is meant to focus on America, what better way than to include “the most influential writings of Americans, by Americans, and for Americans”(5). Prothero’s book is meant to showcase the authors whose works crucially shaped America into what it is known today. In addition, Prothero also mentions how Americans engage in a fight “that is simultaneously political and moral, cultural and religious” and only Americans can “decide what America means and who is, and who is not, authentically American”(6). Prothero’s idea for his collection is based on America, and how themes like slavery and inequality have always been a predominant issue in society. Prothero seems to hold an interest for the African Americans because he does not include much about other races and how they were affected by slavery. Prothero doesn’t want to voice his opinion instead, he wants writings that are historic and famous because “Americans themselves have made [them] sacred” and they demonstrate American ideals (7).
12 Years a Slave almost instantly captures the attention of the audience, and we feel Northup’s extreme desire to be free and to reunite with his family by the way he struggles not to survive but to live. This film is very concise and does not hold onto any stereotypes. Instead it creates the fearsome daily horrors and cruelty of slavery that was present in the history of the United States. This crude straightforwardness within the film triggered controversy because of the scenes that were filled with violence. In 12 Years a Slave there is a...