Edwin Epps Quotes in 12 Years a Slave (2013)


Edwin Epps Quotes:

  • Edwin Epps: If something rubs you wrongly, I offer you the opportunity to speak on it.

    Bass: [exhales] Well, you ask plainly, so I will tell you plainly. What amused me just then was your concern for my wellbeing in this heat when, quite frankly, the condition of your laborers...

    Edwin Epps: The condition of my laborers?

    Bass: It is horrid.

    Edwin Epps: The hell?


    Bass: It's all wrong. All wrong, Mr. Epps.

    Edwin Epps: They ain't hired help. They're my property.

    Bass: You say that with pride.

    Edwin Epps: I say it as fact.

    Bass: If this conversation concerns what is factual and what is not, then it must be said that there is no justice nor righteousness in their slavery. But you do open up an interesting question. What right have you to your niggers, when you come down to the point?

    Edwin Epps: What right?

    Bass: Mmm

    Edwin Epps: I bought 'em. I paid for 'em.

    Bass: Well, of course you did, and the law says you have the right to hold a nigger. But begging the law's pardon, it lies. Suppose they pass a law taking away your liberty, making you a slave. Suppose.

    Edwin Epps: That ain't a supposable case.

    Bass: Laws change, Epps. Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, a plain and simple fact, that what is true and right is true and right for all. White and black alike.

    Edwin Epps: You comparing me to a nigger, Bass?

    Bass: I'm only asking, in the eyes of God, what is the difference?

    Edwin Epps: You might as well ask what the difference is between a white man and a baboon.


    Edwin Epps: I seen one of them critters in Orleans. Know just as much as any nigger I got.

    Bass: Listen, Epps, these niggers are human beings. If they are allowed to climb no higher than brute animals, you and men like you will have to answer for it. There is an ill, Mr. Epps. A fearful ill resting upon this nation. And there will be a day of reckoning yet.

  • Edwin Epps: [Having awakened Solomon in the middle of the night, Epps coaxes him outside, puts his arm around him as if consoling a friend, and guides him into the woods] Well, boy. I understand I've got a larned nigger that writes letters and tries to get white fellows to mail 'em. Well, Armsby tol' me today the devil was among my niggers. That I had one that needed close watchin' or he would run away. When I axed him why, he said you come over to him and waked him up in the middle of the night and wanted him to carry a letter to Marksville. What have yah got to say to that?

    Solomon Northup: There is no truth in it.

    Edwin Epps: You say.

    Solomon Northup: How could I write a letter without ink or paper? There is nobody I want to write to 'cause I hain't got no friends living as I know of. That Armsby is a lying drunken fellow. You know this, just as you know that I am constant in truth. Now, master, I can see what that Armsby is after, plain enough. Didn't he want you to hire him for an overseer? That's it. He wants to make you believe we're all going to run away and then he thinks you'll hire an overseer to watch us. He believes you are soft soap. He's given to such talk. I believe he's just made this story out of whole cloth, 'cause he wants to get a situation. It's all a lie, master, you may depend on't. It's all a lie.

    Edwin Epps: [reveals a pocket knife he'd had pressed against Solomon's gut the entire time] I'll be damned... Were he not free and white, Platt. Were he not free and white.

  • Solomon Northup: [Epps has just whipped Patsey within an inch of her life] Thou devil! Sooner or later, somewhere in the course of eternal justice thou shalt answer for this sin!

    Edwin Epps: No sin! There is no sin! A man does how he pleases with his property. At the moment, Platt, I am of great pleasure. You be goddamn careful I don't come to wantin' to lightenin' my mood no further.

  • Patsey: I went to Massa Shaw's plantation!

    Edwin Epps: Ya admit it.

    Patsey: Freely. And you know why?

    [she produces a piece of soap from the pocket of her dress]

    Patsey: I got this from Mistress Shaw. Mistress Epps won't even grant me no soap ta clean with. Stink so much I make myself gag. Five hundred pounds 'a cotton day in, day out. More than any man here. And 'fo that I will be clean; that all I ax. Dis here what I went to Shaw's 'fo.

    Edwin Epps: You lie...

    Patsey: The Lord knows that's all.

    Edwin Epps: You lie!

    Patsey: And you blind wit yer own covetousness. I don't lie, Massa. If you kill me, I'll stick ta that.

    Edwin Epps: Oh, I'll fetch you down. I'll learn you to go to Shaw's. I'll take the starch outta ya. Treach, go get some line.

  • Edwin Epps: "And that servant which knew his Lord's will... which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself... prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes..." D'ye hear that? "Stripes." That nigger that don't take care, that don't obey his lord - that's his master - d'ye see? - that 'ere nigger shall be beaten with many stripes. Now, "many" signifies a great many. Forty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty lashes... that's Scripture.

  • Mistress Epps: You will remove that black bitch from this property, or I'll take myself back to Cheneyville.

    Edwin Epps: Back to the hogs's trough where I found you? Do not set yourself against Patsy, my dear. Cos I will rid myself of you well before I do away with her.

  • Edwin Epps: [about Patsey] Damned Queen. Born and bred to the field. A nigger among niggers, and God give 'er to me. A lesson in the rewards of righteous livin'. All be observant ta that. All!

  • Edwin Epps: A plague! It's damn Biblical. Two season God done sent a plague to smite me. I am near ruination. Why, Treach? What I done that God hate me so? Do I not preach His word?

    Treach: The whole Bayou sufferin'.

    Edwin Epps: I don't care nothin' fer the damn Bayou. I'm sufferin'.

    [looks at the slaves]

    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.

  • Edwin Epps: [bursting into the slaves' quarters in the middle of the night] Get up! Get up, we dance tonight! We will not waste the evenin' with yer laziness. Get up.

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