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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Written By: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Book Review By: Eric Heitzman

Introduction

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a marvelous novel depicting not only the hardships of slavery, but also the triumphs. Written in 1852, it has been said that upon reading this book, Abraham Lincoln himself told Stowe that this piece of literature had been a catalyst for the Civil War. I think that this book is actually quite good and does an adequate, if not harsh, representation of slavery. Its my belief that this novel should be read by all to see the reality of how bad slavery was, and that it isn't something that should just be "shrugged" off.

Theme

I believe that the main theme of the story is one of a religious origin. Throughout the story, we are shown subtle insights into Tom's nature and his mind. We see that he is pure of heart and is almost a sort of heavenly figure. At any rate he is a very religious fellow, but I think that he is meant to represent Jesus in the ways that he forgives the sins of his oppressors, and in the patience that he is consistently showing. He is often trying to take the suffering of others and would give his life for that of another, even his most tyrannical master, Simon Legree.

Characters

Uncle Tom:

Uncle Tom is an older slave and is the main character of the book.

He is an all around good-natured person and is a god-fearing man. Although he is consistently wronged, he often times forgives those who perform the misdeeds. He is very religious and is well versed in the bible and calls upon god in times of need. Tom is always trying to better himself and also the lives of the other slaves he associates with.

Arthur Shelby:

Arthur Shelby is Tom's first master in the book who owns a plantation in Kentucky. He is kind to all of his slaves, but falls into debt from gambling. In order to save his plantation, he has to sell both Tom and another slave boy named Harry. Arthur was quite upset about letting his "hands" go because Tom had been with him since he was a child and he didn't want to take Harry away from his mother.

George Shelby:

George is Arthur's boy. At the beginning of the book, George is about thirteen years old. He is the one who teaches Tom how to read. When Tom is sold, George promises to find Tom but does not do so until many years later, when Tom is nearing death.

Mr. Haley:

Mr. Haley is a Stingy slave trader. He wears suits with elaborate colors and has a lot of jewelry like rings and watches. He is the one who convinces Arthur Shelby to sell not only Tom, but also the young boy, Harry. He considers himself to be a gentleman, and humane, yet when Harry's mother Eliza runs away with her boy, he uses dogs and other slaves to chase them down.

Eliza:

Eliza is Harry's mother, and is married to George Harris. She begins the story as Mr. Shelby's personal maid. She is quite attractive with long flowing dark hair and long eyelashes, but is a quadroon. A quadroon is three fourths white and one fourth African American. She is very spiritual and has a peaceful nature. She is forced to make the only decision she thinks possible when she finds out that Mr. Shelby has sold Harry to Mr. Haley. She decides to run away to the north with Harry across the Ohio River. Upon crossing the river, she is helped by friendly Quakers and after a time, reunited with her husband George Harris.

Harry:

Harry is Eliza and George's son. He has many talents and he sings and dances for the master as he pleases. He runs away to the north with his mother.

George Harris:

George is the husband of Eliza and lives on a neighboring plantation. He is extremely desperate for his freedom and he ends up escaping his master disguised as a Spaniard. He is not reunited with his family until they meet by chance in Ohio. When the family is one again, they continue to Canada and then travel France and Liberia.

Augustine St. Clare:

Augustine is Tom's master while he is in New Orleans. He is a wealthy man and comes to like Tom a lot after he saves his daughter Eva from drowning. Augustine is not sure of his faith but is given assistance from Tom. He promises freedom to his slaves after the death of his daughter, but is unable to sign Tom's freedom because he is killed in a bar fight.

Eva St. Clare:

The five-year old daughter of Augustine, Eva is a stunningly beautiful child. She is thought to be as angelic for the way she shows love for all other things. She becomes best friends with Tom, for they share a common love for those that are around them. Unfortunately, she dies at a young age and before she dies, she makes her father promise to free the slaves.

Simon Legree:

Simon is Tom's last and his worst master. Simon is actually a Yankee who moved down south in order to make money in the plantation business. He is an overly aggressive man and an alcoholic as well. He beats the slaves he owns and does nothing for the conditions in which they must live. Simon Legree makes his slaves worship him and make him their leader and "god". He grows to hate Tom with all his strength because of Tom's love of god and his nature to forgive.

Cassy:

Cassy is Simon Legree's Mistress. She is a mulatto who has a face that is one that you can't forget. She is the only one who can stand up to Simon or his overseers and uses this power to try and save Tom from Legree's anger but fails. She ends up escaping the plantation and finding her daughter, Eliza.

Setting

The story takes place at many different locations and in numerous states. The time period however is in the early eighteen hundreds, A time were slavery is not nearly looked down upon as it is today, before the Civil War, when the slave trade was flourishing in the south. There were however those who disagreed with the circumstances, such as the Quakers that help out Eliza, Harry and George.

There are three places were much of the story is told. There is the plantation of Mr. Arthur Shelby, Augustine St. Clare's abode,

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