Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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The book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe has a strong thematic concern of antislavery with regards to compassion, inhumanity, and cruelty. The story puts its focus on a black slave who suffers for quite a long time due to his ethnic background. Uncle Tom faces life’s reality in a harsh environment where slaves are seen as mere losers. He is an intelligent man and his honesty cannot be overlooked.

Tom is bought as a slave by Mr. Shelby in Kentucky who is kind-hearted and treats him well. He is entrusted with many responsibilities such as finances and house dealings by Mr. Shelby, his master which he does not misuse or violate as Mr. Shelby states “…Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum anywhere-steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock” (Stowe 3).

Uncle Tom’s Christian morals are evident which gains him favor from the master including freedom to be with his family in his cabin.

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Tragically, Mr. Shelby owes the slave trader Haley, a debt which he has to clear. The only solution left is to render Uncle Tom as a ransom to clear his debt. Harley insists that he also has to take Eliza’s (Shelby’s maid) son Harry, with him. Irrespective of Mr. Shelby being an affluent person as he owns estates and many horses, he chooses to sell Uncle Tom to settle debt.

The issue of giving out Harry and Uncle Tom triggers a controversy. Eliza opposes his son’s departure and runs away with harry where she hooks up with George, who is her husband owned by a separate master.

George had escaped hard work he was being subjected to. Harley puts effort to gain hold of Eliza it is fruitless as other slaves of Mr. Shelby sabotage and confuse him the direction to follow in order not to get hold of Eliza. Meanwhile, she has managed to evade Harley by disappearing on the other side of the river and to Canada with the help of strangers.

This is in the pursuit of freedom which is the right of every individual irrespective of his or her ethnicity. Harley re-strategize by sending slave catchers to look for Eliza and his son as he goes back to Mr. Shelby to take uncle Tom who follows submissively due to his Christian morals and since he is aware that the other slaves might also be sold if the debt is not settled.

Harley has plans to sell him at the far south away from his family which suffer due to his departure because they are aware that he will end up dying of being overworked.

All the same, he might be bought by a good master who would appreciate his intelligence and award him for it. Together, they navigate the Mississippi river to New Orleans where they along the way, they witness a mother who commits suicide by jumping overboard due to his son’s departure with slave traders.

It is through the journey that Eva, a daughter of a rich man (Augustine St. Clare) is saved by Uncle Tom when she drops overboard where he gains a favor and is acquired to become a horse-driver. Augustine St. Clare dislikes slavery although he cannot openly oppose it alone not even with the help of his wife who despises slaves.

He has a wife whom they don’t get along well as he got her after facing denial from the family of the one he loved. Following Augustine St. Clare and his daughter’s death, Tom is sold to a cruel, master fiendish Simon Legree the owner of a cotton plantation where he is brutally beaten and eventually dies (Stowe 411).

In conclusion, the book portrays the immoral attributes that arise as a result of slavery, Christianity as a source of consolation and the relevance of the right to motherhood.

The slaves are treated as having no feelings but the book points out that they are capable of having those feelings when they suffer and should therefore not be mistreated just as Christianity points out. The author emphasizes the relevance of personal freedom which is denied to the slaves and therefore discusses slavery from an abolitionist perspective.

Works Cited

Stowe, Harriet. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. 2003. Print.

Categories: Canada

Uncle to turn the tide of public opinion

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Uncle Toms Cabin
How Accurate
Few books can truly be said to have altered the course of history, and even fewer can be said to have started an entire war. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe was one novel to do both. Abraham Lincoln said to Harriet Beecher Stowe upon meeting her, “So this is the little lady who made this big war. Uncle Toms Cabin had a tremendous effect on early 19th century thoughts of slavery, stirring abolitionist support in the North. The novel is a realistic, although fictional, view of slavery with the images of brutal beatings and unfair slave practices. After reading Uncle Toms Cabin thousand of Northerners became impassioned for the anti-slavery cause. Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped eventually, to turn the tide of public opinion against slavery in the 19th century.

This controversial novel was initially written to question slavery, convince people of its immorality and to promote the abolitionist cause. The novels rendering of the slave holding South is not entirely an accurate interpretation of what it was like though. Beecher overexaggerated and overlooked several facts in novel, especially pertaining to the practice of slave trading. To have her readers empathize more with the slaves, Beecher put the worst stories in and the cruelest practices of the slave trade. Although most of Uncle Toms Cabin is very close to the reality of slavery, many aspects of the slave trade were portrayed inaccurately (Taylor).
One of the first miscalculated aspects of the slave trade is the reason for Southern states involvement in the interstate slave trade. Stowe depicted Kentuckys involvement in the slave trade due to the poor soil of the region and economic ties with the practice. She implied in the beginning half of the novel that many Kentuckians resorted to being bondmen in the slave trade due to the infertile land of the Bluegrass Region. On the contrary, Kentucky where the bulk of the slave trade was supposedly concentrated has long been blessed with great fertility. The high phosphorus content and the goodly depth of soil results in land favorable for cultivation (Levy). Stowes explanation for why Kentucky became involved in the slave trade was misguided.
She also inaccurately displays the importance of the slave trade in the Southern economy. She makes it out to be a big business and in common place among many traders. In the novel Stowe starts chapter ten with Tom about to be sold off to the slave trader Haley. His whole family knows that Tom has been traded and is devastated about the situation. Stowe comments on the hardships of slave life and the fear of being sold at a moments notice when she states in her narrative voice that many of the fugitives confessed themselves to have escaped from comparatively kind masters, and that they were induced to brave the perils of escape, in almost every case, by the desperate horror with which they regarded being sold South,–a doom which was hanging either over themselves or their husbands, their wives or children.She goes on to say that there is a lot of money to be made by the industry. In a later section she depicts a slave warehouse where she reiterates the fact that the slaves are horrified to be sold. She goes on to further saying that many slaves are sold many times in their lives for whatever reason. Briskness, alertness, and cheerfulness of appearance, especially before observers, are constantly enforced upon them, both by the hope of thereby getting a good master, and the fear of all that the driver may bring upon them if they prove unsalable. True, many Southerners relied on slaves for their livelihood and at the time the biggest business in the South was agriculture. But the actual amount of people that made money of slaves was less than Stowe depicts. Out of the $61 million invested on slave property in 1840s Virginia, the state brought in less than 3% profit on the investment capital (Levy). The truth of the matter was that slaves were not a good investment. An estimated 75% of the slave trade in the upper South was superannuated, sick, women in unfit condition for labor, and infants unable to work ( Taylor ). Bondmen werent that important, and in fact their numbers were seeing decrease at the time Stowe published Uncle Toms Cabin. The total percentage of bondmen in Kentucky population had stood at 24 percent of white males in 1830, but by 160 it saw its decrease to 19.5 percent. The South didnt rely on slavery for profit and the few that did didnt make that much money at it.
One of the incorrect stereotypes in Uncle Toms Cabin was the depiction of what the public thought of slave traders. One description of a trader in chapter 12 was “O, but nobody thinks anything of these traders! They are universally despised, –never received into any decent society.”. Stowes generalization of them is mostly true. The general public did not approve the slave trading business or, for that matter a majority of the prominent slave holders. One slave owner in Kentucky stated that, to be called such a lowly creature as a negro trader was the last word of opprobrium to be slung at a man. Stowe makes the readers think that Slave traders are the scum of the earth and that everyone hates them.
One of the inaccuracies that Stowe uses in Uncle Toms Cabin is why exactly a slave was sold. First of all she has Tom having three different owners throughout the course of the book. In one statistic it was shown that the average slave had one owner in their life, with less than 40% of the slave population having three or more masters in the course of their life (Taylor). One or more of the following factors dictated the sale of a servant: When such a sale was necessary to settle an estate. Much like that of St. Clares after he died, he didnt put anything in his will about them so Marie sold them to the warehouse. When a slaves delinquent behavior necessitated his or her disposal, they were also sold. When the owner was in dire need of money for the payment of debt, they were also sold. This is seen with Mr. Shelby at the beginning of the book. He owes a large sum of money to Haley so he is forced to sell Henry and Tom. Also when a captured fugitive slave is unclaimed for one year, or simple desire of material gain. Stowe had depicted two in one lifetime of a slave, this is an over exaggeration of the circumstances of trade (Levy). It wasnt a delicate issue, and owners didnt trade their slaves unless absolutely necessary.
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a stunning portrayal of slavery at the time she wrote the story, and in doing so included the worst stories she could find. Although she conveys many truths about certain aspects of the industry, she also overexaggerates what slave trading was like. She made traders out to be far crueler then many were. She also wrote about the importance of traders in the economy, although they had very little. Even though exaggerated the grim portrayals of slavery helped to fan support across the nation for abolitionism. So although she exaggerated her facts, Stowes rendition of slavery accomplished exactly what she had planned for it to do and thankfully too. Without this book we might not have awakened to the evils that the system promoted.

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Categories: Industry

Throughout slaves.Tom is sold to a slave

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Throughout the book Uncle Toms Cabin the setting changes.It starts out in Kentucky.Tom is later sold to New Orleans and then to a plantation up the Red River.At each new place Tom goes his faith in God is put to the test,but Tom stays pious and refuses to turn away from God.In Kentucky Tom is owned by Andy Shelby,a kindly master,who has fallen in to debt and is forced to sell his slaves.Tom is sold to a slave trader named Haley.He ends up in New Orleans in the possession of a romantic and flighty man by the name of St.Clare. After the unfortunate death of St.Clare and his daughter Tom is sold to a wicked plantation owner,Simon Legree,up the Red River.

The main character in Uncle Toms Cabin is Uncle Tom.He is a kindly, uncommonly honest and over all a good man.Tom maintains his faith in God although it is often tested.He is an obedient and hard working slave.He endures his fate while helping others in need escape theirs.He befriends other slaves who want to escape in Canada.He has a wife named Aunt Chloe who is the Shelbys cook.She too is a very good and pious person.Who vows to buy back Tom when he is sold and works hard to try to do so.
There is also Eliza,the Shelbys maid and her son Harry,who she learns is being sold to the slave trader along with Uncle Tom.She is pain stricken to think that she my be separated from her son and asks Tom for help.

Andys wife is against slavery and begs Andy not to sell Harry.She is pleased with Eliza and Harrys escape.

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When Eilza appeals to Tom for help he advises that she along with her son run and the two quietly slip into the night.Though Tom decides he will not do the same.Andys wife who is against slavery and begged Andy not to sell Harry is pleased with Eliza and Harrys escape.

Soon after the search for Eliza and Harry begins.The slave trader,Haley,along with two slaves track Eliza down but she narrowly escapes by jumping into a river.Haley then hires a slave hunter named Loker to continue to track her.Eliza and Harry end up being helped by a senator who claims to support slavery but is convinced by his wife to befriend them.

Mean while Tom starts off with the slave trader,He and Haley board a boat.At the same time we learn that Eliza and Harry are at a Quaker settlement where they are reunited with with Elizas husband George. On the boat Tom befriends an angelic little girl named Eva and when the girl falls overboard Tom saves her. He is then purchased by St.Clare,the Evas father.St.Clare is married to an awful woman named Marie ,His cousin Miss. Ophelia ,an honest and incredibly independent woman,lives with them to help care for Eva.Toms new home ,with the St.Clares, is in Louisiana where he is given the formal job of horse diver.

Eliza,Harry and George leave the Quakers and are soon confronted by Loker and his gang but they manage to once again evade them.George proclaims to them that he will stop at nothing and will become a free man.At his new home Tom is given the responsibility of keeping his masters books.Also he is spreading his good word by trying to reform his new master,who we learn feels he isnt cut out for slavery.Little Eva demonstrates the power of love when she helps Tom write a letter to his family with whom he is still in close contact. St.Clare and his brother have a heated discussion about slavery while Eva asks her cousin to try to love his slave.

Eva takes ill and soon dies but before she goes she asks her father to free Tom and he promises to do so. After Evas death Tom prays for her father.St.Clare signs off one of his slaves to Miss.Ophelia ,then before he he can free Tom, St.Clare is stabbed in a cafe and dies soon after.

Tom is sold along with all of the other slaves. He ends up being sold to a man named Legree,a cruel plantation owner,who also buys a beautiful young girl named Emmiline to replace his aging mistress,Cassy.Emmiline was bought despite her mothers attempts to disguise her beauty to save her from this fate.

At the plantation Toms goodness and faith is put to the test when he is told to whip a lagging slave to near death.But Tom refuses and he himself is nearly beaten to death.Toms new master takes a personal vengeance against Tom and beats him often.But Toms faith remains in God and he sings joyous hymns even while he is being severely beaten.

Tom continues bear his fate while he encourages Cassy and Emmiline to escape.He helps them plot and eventually escape.Before their escape he encourages Cassy and Emmiline to look for George,Eliza and Harry who he learns have,with the help of many kind individuals, have successfully made their way to Canada.But Tom pays dearly for his part in their escape.He is beaten to death.

This Book discusses love on many levels.Tom and his wife show how it is important to love God.Eva and St.Clare along with Mrs.Shellby and other characters through out the book demonstrate the importance of loving all humans.While Eliza and her family show how love will help a family through hard times.Also,Stowe weaves many examples of a mothers love into the story. She shows how hard slavery was on mothers who often had to deal with the lose of their young children.This book also addresses peoples desire for freedom not just from slavery but from everything that binds them in life.Uncle Toms Cabin demonstrates how some people ,especially the women of the South,though not truly slaves were not free.But they and the slaves alike made the best of their fate and fought it from within.

I found this book slightly boring.It lacked compelling scenes but was incredibly influential when it was first written.It makes a powerful statement about slavery especially through the deaths of the slaves.Harriet Beecher Stowe was referred to by Abe Lincoln as the little woman who started the Civil War.She also pointed out that the people of the North not only needed to feel duty when they fought for the freedom of the slaves but love for them and the human race.Uncle Toms Cabin would appeal to mostly people seriously interested in the Civil War.


Bibliography:

Categories: Canada

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