Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Overview

Uncle Tom's Cabin was a sensation upon its publication in 1852. In its first year it sold 300,000 copies, and has since been translated into more than twenty languages. This powerful story of one slave's unbreakable spirit holds an important place in American history, as it helped solidify the anti-slavery sentiments of the North, and moved a nation to civil war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781846373909
Publisher: Echo Library
Publication date: 05/15/2006
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 575
Product dimensions: 8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was born in Litchfield, CT.

Date of Birth:

June 14, 1811

Date of Death:

July 1, 1896

Place of Birth:

Litchfield, Connecticut

Place of Death:

Hartford, Connecticut

Education:

Homeschooled

Read an Excerpt

In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P-------, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors, attached to it, --which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray's Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated,the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.

"That is the way I should arrange the matter," said Mr. Shelby.

"I can't make trade that way--I positively can't, Mr. Shelby," said the other, holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

"Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum anywhere,--steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock."

"You mean honest, as niggers go," said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.

"No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I've trusted him, since then, with everything I have,--money, house, horses,--and let him come and go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything."

"Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers, Shelby," said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, "but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans--'t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, ,I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake."

"Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had," rejoined the other. "Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you because I think you're a Christian--I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him--`Tom, why don't you make tracks for Canada?' 'Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn't,'--they told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."

"Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep,--just a little, you know, to swear by, as 't were," said the trader, jocularly; "and, then, I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow--a leetle too hard." The trader sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.

"Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?" said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.

"Well, haven't you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?"

"Hum!--none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact."

Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being petted and noticed by his master.

"Hulloa, Jim Crow!" said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him, "pick that up, now!"

The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.

"Come here, Jim Crow," said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.

"Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing." The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the music.

Table of Contents

Vol. I
IIn Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity7
IIThe Mother17
IIIThe Husband and Father20
IVAn Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin25
VShowing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners37
VIDiscovery45
VIIThe Mother's Struggle54
VIIIEliza's Escape67
IXIn Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man82
XThe Property Is Carried Off99
XIIn Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind108
XIISelect Incident of Lawful Trade122
XIIIThe Quaker Settlement139
XIVEvangeline148
XVOf Tom's New Master, and Various Other Matters158
XVITom's Mistress and Her Opinions174
XVIIThe Freeman's Defence193
XVIIIMiss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions209
Vol. II
XIXMiss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions, Continued226
XXTopsy245
XXIKentuck260
XXII"The Grass Withereth--the Flower Fadeth"265
XXIIIHenrique272
XXIVForeshadowings280
XXVThe Little Evangelist286
XXVIDeath291
XXVII"This Is the Last of Earth"304
XXVIIIReunion312
XXIXThe Unprotected326
XXXThe Slave Warehouse334
XXXIThe Middle Passage344
XXXIIDark Places350
XXXIIICassy359
XXXIVThe Quadroon's Story366
XXXVThe Tokens377
XXXVIEmmeline and Cassy383
XXXVIILiberty390
XXXVIIIThe Victory396
XXXIXThe Stratagem406
XLThe Martyr416
XLIThe Young Master423
XLIIAn Authentic Ghost Story429
XLIIIResults436
XLIVThe Liberator444
XLVConcluding Remarks447

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Allen masterfully elicits an array of Southern dialects for Stowe's variety of characters. His thoughtful, engaged performance creates a memorable audio experience." —-AudioFile

Reading Group Guide

Uncle Tom, Topsy, Sambo, Simon Legree, little Eva: their names are American bywords, and all of them are characters in Harriet Beecher Stowe's remarkable novel of the pre-Civil War South. Uncle Tom's Cabin was revolutionary in 1852 for its passionate indictment of slavery and for its presentation of Tom, "a man of humanity," as the first black hero in American fiction. Labeled racist and condescending by some contemporary critics, it remains a shocking, controversial, and powerful work -- exposing the attitudes of white nineteenth-century society toward "the peculiar institution" and documenting, in heartrending detail, the tragic breakup of black Kentucky families "sold down the river." An immediate international sensation, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the first year, was translated into thirty-seven languages, and has never gone out of print: its political impact was immense, its emotional influence immeasurable.


From the Paperback edition.

Introduction

A Reading Group Guide for Uncle Tom's Cabin

About the Book

Arthur Shelby is a good man — kind and fair — but he has fallen into financial difficulties. The only way he can set things right is by selling two of his slaves: the strong and faithful Tom, and Eliza's charming young son. Shelby's decision sets in motion two series of events that are as different as night and day, as both Tom and Eliza are forced to leave the Shelby estate. The journeys they take, and the people they meet along the way, lie at the heart of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a story that served as a searing indictment of the slave system that existed at the time.

Discussion Topics

  • How do the other people on the Shelby estate react to news of the sale of Tom and Harry? What is Mrs. Shelby's objection? How does young "Mas'r George" deal with the news of his friend's departure? How do the other slaves react?

  • Many different people help Eliza during her flight — Mr. Symmes, the Bird family, the community of Quakers. What similarities and differences are there among all these people? What reasons does each of them give for helping Eliza?

  • Much of the dialogue in the book is given over to a debate on the morality of slavery. Most of the slave owners feel that they are "above" the slave traders. Is this true? Why do you think that so many members of the clergy defended slavery?

  • Discuss the author's attitude toward her black characters. Do you think this was an acceptable point of view at the time? What do you think would have to be changed if the story were being told today?

  • Miss Ophelia's presence in the story allows the author to addressNorthern attitudes toward blacks. As St. Clare tells her, "You loathe them as you would a snake or a toad, yet you are indignant at their wrongs. You would not have them abused; but you don't want to have anything to do with them yourselves." Is this a fair assessment of Miss Ophelia's feelings? What happens to change her attitude?

  • Discuss the death scenes of both Eva and Uncle Tom. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Why do you think that the author devoted so much time to these death scenes?

  • Children play a large part in the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin. What do Eva, Topsy, George Shelby, Harry, and Henrique each symbolize? Would the story have been the same if their characters had been adult?

Activities

  • Trace the route of the Underground Railroad. Find information about some of the major stops, as well as some of the famous "conductors" that helped slaves escape. Also, research what the punishment was for helping the slaves.

  • Eliza's escape across the river has always been popular with dramatists and actors. See if you can find examples of this scene being acted out (hint: it figures prominently in the movie The King and I). Perform this scene yourself, and any other scenes you think lend themselves well to performance.

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin was very controversial when it was first published, and it's often said to be a contributing factor to the Civil War. Research reactions to the book throughout its history.

    1. Investigate the institution of slavery. What were the economic factors that supported it? Could slavery have ended without a war?

    2. Quakers played an important role in the abolitionist movement. How did their beliefs make them particularly well suited for the abolitionist cause?

    3. A great deal of attention is given in the book to descriptions of food. Find some traditional Southern recipes and try them out.

    4. Find other books and writings that were important in the fight for civil rights. Compare them to Uncle Tom's Cabin, both in terms of style and historical context.

Customer Reviews

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Uncle Tom's Cabin (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 487 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I will admit that it wasn't an easy read. But I was determined to finish it anyway. It had so many valuable life lessons that I don't have the space or time to mention them all. I strongly recommend it for christians to read, because we do sometimes forget how to hold on to our faith, when times are bad. I laughed and cried, and I feel so much more enlightened now about faith and love. I hope I'll never forget the teachings in this book.
courtney_weaver More than 1 year ago
Uncle Tom's cabin is a very touching story telling the life of a family of slaves. Uncle Tom is the heart of the story working on Mr. Shelbys farm. He has a wife and a son and he even has is own little cabin that Mr. Shelby has supplied him. Tom was happy there and the tought of escaping never crossed his mind. He believed that God put him there for a reason. Writen by Harriet Beecher Stowe, this touching story is unforgettable. The story sets in the south on a slave plantation were the slaves work for their owners and the thought of being sold to a different owner stays with them everyday. Not only does this story talk about the story of time but it is filled with charecters from all walks of life ranging from the runnaway slaves tht tells the struggles they go through and all of the heartache they experiance when the two get seperated. Not only do the slaves suffer but their family does as well. Tom has a son and for the most of his little life he won't understand why his dad has left. For most of Tom's journey through this book he gets traded from owner to owner and finaly gets settled in with an abusive, angered and strict man. Tom still finds away to keep faith and believes that God will light the way. Plus he meets some odd charectors throughout the story like Topsy a daranged and clumsy little slave girl that finds fun in entertaining anyone who will watch. I would recomend this book to everyone and anyone because it teaches you the morals of life and that no matter what always keep faith because Tom never lost hope and he found the light in the most dimmest moments because he knew that God was always on his side protecting him This book is a must read because it has a lot of historical facts and it gives you a glimpse into the eyes of a different race and what they had to experience.
yearningtoread More than 1 year ago
Uncle Tom lives in Kentucky under the kind Shelby family, where he has had the life of ease, even as a slave in America. He's treated with respect, both him and his family. He has helped work the Shelby's land for years. Tom loves the Lord, and serves Him all the days of his life. His heart is set on winning others to Jesus and serving the saved and unsaved. He is joyful. He has everything a slave could ask for. But Shelby has some debts to settle. Tom, the most valuable slave on the plantation, is sold, and sent with a trader named Haley to be sold. It is the beginning of one of the greatest adventures ever put to paper. It is an adventure of sorrow, broken hearts, and a love that is more redeeming than any human love. I was greatly impressed by this book. Before I was finished with it, I read in a curriculum that many writers and publishers were very critical of Stowe's work, that many did (and do) not like it. Even then I wasn't quite sure why, but at the end I was confused. How could anyone dislike this book? Even if the story is too sad for you - how can you not at least see the beauty of the characters and how Stowe formed each sentence? It was all careful, taking one step, one breath at a time. The book was like that. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Methodical, like breathing. And what's the beauty of breathing? It keeps you alive without you even knowing it. In a sense, Uncle Tom's Cabin was like that. Every breath was perfect, I didn't even realize it, but it kept the story going in a way that I will never, ever forget. There isn't much else to say about this story...other than please, I beg you to read this book. I laughed, I cried my eyes out, I went numb with fear and hatred, I was captivated by the love of God. And Tom, the slave who is now free, will always be a hero.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Uncle Tom's Cabin is an eloquent classic that vividly exposes the brutality of slavery. The personality and morals of various characters in the novel really engage one's attention, reflecting the mindsets of individuals from 19th Century Southern Society. Although an extremely long read with an uninteresting plot, the novel's realistic and gruesome account of the lives of slaves will surely astonish and intrigue the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a classic. It is a touching story about what slaves went through. It was even good enough to be put in the movie The King and I. That is what first moved me to read this book. Seriously give this book a try. You wont be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not religious, but I would call Uncle Tom the quintessential Christian, as far I have been taught. He holds on to forgiving others to the bitter end. This is one of the few ¿must read¿ books around. I think it should be mandatory reading for all youths. IMHO anyone who suggests this is anything but a great read either hasn¿t read the book, didn¿t understand the book or simply doesn¿t have a conscience. Brahma
mapman More than 1 year ago
My title says it all. This book should be on everyone's "must read" book list. While the book is not entirely factual, it is founded on events that actually took place. It paints a rather grim picture of the terrible life of slavery in America. It is amazing to me that we allowed this practice to exist, even though I understand why it was condoned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm horrified and deeply troubled and haunted by the injustices done to poor Uncle Tom. After reading Uncle Tom I am ashamed slavery ever existed in the first place and people could treat others in such a cruel and dehumanzing way. I wont forget this book for as long as I live.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a very nice read. There is a very large amount of characters and it can be hard to remember who's who. But the main characters show multiple sides of their personality, and this book really shows what a good Christian is. Harriet Beecher Stowe does a wonderful job of showing the cruelties of slavery and the diversity of slave owners, ranging from St. Clare to Simon Legree, and the honesty of slaves such as Uncle Tom. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the thoughts about slavery in the 1850's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I started to read this book, I was crying as the characters were seperating. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this novel in such a fantastic way that I could actually bond and understand what the characters had to go through. Although most of this book is very sad and depressing, she ties it together with more fortunate events which make the novel seem even more real. I think that Harriet Beecher Stowe is one of the only authors who understands that one novel can not just be only morbid or gleeful, and that if you tie those two feelings together (with some more feelings to one side than another to set the tone), more connection and passion can be felt by the reader. Once you read this fantastic novel, you will be amazed at the real connection you feel with the characters and actual slaves.
Stardust_Fiddle More than 1 year ago
A seminal work of the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is also the quintessential sentimental novel. It is both reactionary and political, a call to arms to awaken citizens to the atrocities of the “peculiar institution” of American slavery. By directly addressing the reader in the present tense, Stowe forces the reader to engage in the story and to consider the various characters’ feelings and actions. She also accomplishes this by relying on stereotypes, particularly of the slave characters (Dinah, Mammy, Topsy, Sambo), thereby making them as all-encompassing and as universal as possible while at the same time destroying the myth that they are happily enslaved. Uncle Tom and Eliza are the two main protagonists, and they embody the two plot lines which soon diverge, like the issue of slavery, into north and south, creating a microcosm of the antebellum period of America. Many of the other characters are also forever etched into the literary consciousness, such as Mr. St. Clare, Eva, and Simon Legree. One of the most memorable aspects of the novel is Stowe’s anti-slavery proselytizing through a presentation of the most common arguments used in favor of the “peculiar institution” and a more or less all-encompassing view of its many facets, often accomplished through the dialogue of fringe characters. If there is one overarching theme and point that Stowe is trying to emphasize, it is the role of the law in the slavery issue, and the necessity of abrogating that law. A thesis of sorts that is fictional with a factual basis, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” advocates for a Christian awakening and acknowledgment. As Stowe makes clear, humanity and compassion—fueled by enlightenment—should be the basis for equality. The entirety of the novel and its message is summarized in the last chapter, and it is as prevalent today as it was when it was written. An individual may not be able to accomplish or effect change on his/her own, but when a group of individuals gather together against injustice and allow themselves to be educated and their eyes to be opened to oppression, transformation is possible.
Russell Maysey More than 1 year ago
The book that inspired the Civil War. A deep and very accurate tale of life as a slave on plantations.
josh84 More than 1 year ago
This was the first classic I ever read aside of those I was forced to read as a child back in middle school. This was a great book!!! Not only does it talk about slavery but also about true Christianity. Very good book to read for those who want to learn more about this dark period and for those who want to learn about Christianity. Many life lessons can be found here. I laughed and cried... Very moving book.
Kratz More than 1 year ago
This incredible book opens a window into the seedier side of American slave trade history. Written with compassion and realism Uncle Tom's Cabin exposes the harsh realities of plantation life in the South. Many of the fictional characters and their circumstances were developed by Ms. Stowe from actual individuals. I was engrossed in the character development. Simon Legree is arguably the greatest villain ever penned and Uncle Tom is a gentle soul hard to forget. A great classic well worth reading for many reasons. I would highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Uncle Toms Cabin was truly a great book. Harriet Beecher Stowe aws very articulate in this novel. This book showed how African-Americans struggled during the civil war. I reccomend this book to anybody who likes to read. This book was also deeply religous to me. Also this book showed the mentallity of a rascist. Today many colleges read this book. Many people believe that this book was controversial in the south. People are very impressed with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This classic is a must read for those who have missed this tale of the pain of human suffering in slavery...a pain that must not be forgotton, ever. I enjoyed this book as a 'reading again' experience, as classics such as this always have new meanings and enlightment with each reading. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cannot believe i had not read this classic before
Carl_in_Richland More than 1 year ago
I’ve observed that persons reading this book fall into one of two categories. The first group consists of individuals having enthusiasm and amazement with a gripping story that vividly describes the horrors of slavery in 19th century America. These folks note that even Abraham Lincoln recognized the importance of this book (based on the apocryphal story of Mr. Lincoln saying to Harriet Stowe words to the effect, ‘So you’re the lady who started this war.’ The book’s historical and social impact can’t be questioned. The other group of readers, which include myself, find the book filled with too many sermons, characters who are like cardboard cut-outs (predictable, one-dimensional), language that is unbelievably stilted and a writing style that can only be characterized as maudlin in the extreme. This group of readers finds the novel to be of great historical importance, but at best tedious to get through. One particularly set of awful chapters describe the death of Little Eva, an angelic little blonde girl who reads the bible, chides her parents for not being more Christian like and describes with anticipation her death after which she’ll be in heaven. Her final request is that locks of her hair be given to her close friends and family, including the slaves. If not for its inclusion in this historically important novel, I would nominate these chapters as entries for competition as the worst literature ever written. It was also hard to believe that, according to the characters in this book, the only persons who could possibly behave in a decent way were God fearing Christians…the rest of them were going to hell. Contrast this with Mark Twain’s writings on slavery which argue that slavery is an intrinsic evil with no need to refer to any religion at all. Remember the scene on a raft in Huckleberry Finn where Huck decides not to write to Jim’s master about helping Jim escape, accepting what the ministers said and concluding “All right, then, I’ll GO to hell” This kind of humanism is entirely missing from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. I give this book high marks for its historical importance, but low marks as a piece of good writing. And would direct readers interested in this period of American history to the novels and essays of Mark Twain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully told story! Powerful!
julied on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I never knew that it was such a page turner! About halfway through the pace picked up so that I was avidly reading whenever I had a chance to see if George and Eliza would shake off their trackers, Uncle Tom would make it back to his family, what it would take to make Topsy reform and much more. How about that crazy Cassy, hmm? And poor Emmaline ... would someone save her before Simon Legree got his filthy hands on her? Wow!I never knew that Uncle Tom actually was a Christ-figure, a living saint. No wonder he is misunderstood by so many. They are not getting the whole picture.I never knew that so many sorts of people were represented throughout the book. The language can be rather stilted due to the style of the times but Stowe did a good job showing many different attitudes toward slavery and how people excused themselves under the flimsiest of excuses. One expects the broadly painted very good and very evil owners but not the more shaded in-between characters.It was fascinating toward the end of the book to see where many of the slaves wound up. One could discern what Stowe's ideas of a solution for the slavery problem were and, indeed, it was even more interesting to read her afterward where she discusses it specifically.I thought that Stowe included herself in the book as the maiden aunt from New England who thought she understood the problem until she came up against Topsy who demanded that she put her whole heart and soul into realizing that the slaves were real people. My daughter saw her as Mrs. Shelby, the kindly wife of Uncle Tom's original owner, who as soon as she got a chance absolutely did the right thing.
CBJames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Uncle Tom's Cabin or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe is the book that started the American Civil War, according to Abraham Lincoln who was only being partially facetious when he first made that comment to the author. Starting a war was not Ms. Stowe's goal when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, but ending slavery in America certainly was. Telling a story, creating a work of art, while important, played a secondary role in her ambitions. The story serves an express purpose, exposing the horrors of slavery in order to bring about its end. So, 150 years after it's initial publication, what does Uncle Tom's Cabin have to offer a 21st century reader?As a historical document, Uncle Tom's Cabin, it must be acknowledge, carries a lot of weight. It was after all, the best selling novel of the 19th century, the second best selling book in the world, second only to the bible. Written as an angry response to the passage of the fugitive slave law, it certainly tapped into the cultural zeitgeist of it's day. Stowe's novel and the wide ranging dramatizations it inspired, some of which were staged before the novel serialization was finished, have entered into the American collective consciousness. (Even Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim referenced the novel; his song "Not Getting Married" includes the line "like Eliza on the ice.") The characters Uncle Tom, Topsy, Eliza, Simon Legree, Little Eva have all taken on a life of their own, often unfortunately so. Stowe's depiction of slavery, while far from comprehensive and probably far from accurate, opened the eyes of contemporary readers, and can still at least raise a few eyebrows today. People tend to forget how horrible things were with the passage of time which makes books like Uncle Tom's Cabin useful reading. But, in the end, is it a good read? The story begins with high melodrama that does not let up until the very end. In the opening chapters, Uncle Tom, though devoted to his master, Mr Shelby, and his master's family, is sold along with young Harry, Eliza's son. Eliza has already lost her husband to a plantation owner who refuses to let her see him, so she takes her young son and runs away before he can be sold soth. Eliza carries her son across a the broken ice that floats down the Ohio River in order to be free. Uncle Tom is sent to the slave markets in New Orleans on a river boat. While on-board he rescues a young girl, Eva, who insists that her father, Mr. St. Clare, buy him so she can have his company. On the St. Clare plantation Uncle Tom and Little Eva win the hearts of just about everyone but Mrs. St. Clare who sells Tom instead of granting him freedom after the deaths of both Eva and her father. Tom then ends up in the hands of Simon Legree who runs a plantation straight out of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Tom's wife, Aunt Cloe, meanwhile, works and saves her money so she can buy Tom's freedom. In the end, Mr. Shelby, Jr. goes to Legree's plantation to buy Tom back only to find he is dying from the severe beating Legree has given him. Back in Canada Eliza, George and their children decide to emigrate to Liberia to start a new life and to bring Christianity to Africa.You can see why so many modern reader's have problems with the novel. It's not that the black characters are realized as less than fully human, it's that they are realized as children. Tom and Little Eva are equals, both portrayed as children in a sentimental Victorian melodrama. Both are devoted to each other and to Christianity as only little childre can be. Both believe that God will save them and that everyone should turn to God and all their problems will be solved. The message of the novel is not just that slavery is wrong, but that turning away from God is wrong. We must end slavery as a means of returning to the path of righteousness that God has set out for us to follow. This path, leads the black characters back to Africa, not as a return to the lives their ancestors left, but as missiona
coffeeandtea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My 2nd read of this book; the first read was about two decades ago. This time around, the book walloped me so much that for days I could think of nothing else. It is reported that Abe Lincoln remarked to the Harriet that her book was responsible for starting the Civil War. I would have loved to be present at that conversation and observed Beecher's response. What did she say and do after that comment?
pzmiller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I only just read it for the first time. All I can say is that this book is amazing -- and that Harriet Beecher Stowe must have been a genius because of the way she manipulated the story to "preach" for her without preaching.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book everyone has heard of, but few have read. The title has turned into a well know adjective that is intended to be uncomplimentary. It is an uncomfortable book for readers today because some the 19th Century ideas expressed by the characters (including blacks, whites, abolitionists and pro-slavery folks) in the book are frankly not politically correct under today's standards. Literary scholars don't give it high marks because they say it is too emotional, too sentimental, not complex enough, and too overtly religious. However, one can't understand the 19th Century without reading this book. I think this is the second best selling book of the 19th Century after the Bible. This is the book that (it can be argued) caused the the Civil War. I think it should be read and appreciated for the insight it gives into the heart felt emotions of Northerners in reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act that made it a federal crime to assist slaves who had fled from slave states. Another characteristic of this book is its emphasis on the heartbreak consequences of breaking up slave families. The book portrays several examples of the painful anguish caused by children being taken away from mothers. Some have suggested that this book may have never been written if slave owners had not been permitted to break up the family's of slaves by selling them to different owners. The story is painful for 21st Century readers to read even with the knowledge that the conditions described happened over 150 years ago. The book must have been even more unbearable for mid 19th Century readers since it described current happenings. Stowe's writing is clear and easy to read. I recommend it to all.
bookseller525 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a re-read for me. It's one of my favorite pieces of American literature.Yes, I realize that there are many major problems with this book. It actually fairly drips with sentimentality. It's preachy. The characters are one-dimesional...either completely saintly and angelic or hideously villainous without a single redeeming quality. Not to mention the problem of racial stereotyping, and Tom's overt meekness and submisiveness to his masters and his situation. But I can't help but get caught up in this book. I care about the characters. And, in some respects, I see Uncle Tom as one of the strongest characters I've ever read, and I admire him. In spite of his apparent meekness and passivity, I think he displays incredible courage; incredible strength of character. Stowe's passion for the subject of abolition shows in this work. It drove this book, and it's that passion that speaks to me and draws me in.