- Series: Dover Thrift Editions
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; 1 edition (August 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486440281
- ISBN-13: 978-0486440286
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3,267 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Uncle Tom's Cabin (Dover Thrift Editions) 1st Edition
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Every one should read this book. It can be a hard read as it is a glimpse into a dark period in history.
I would not recommend this book to those who are quickly angered by racial slurs or degradation of any kind. I think one of the most difficult things for readers in the present will be remembering that for the time period of this book, that the language used was part of the culture.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to feel enlightened and full of hope, despite the hardship you must follow in order to feel them. Uncle Tom himself is a beacon of true light and he honestly made me want be a better person. This book is smart, real and oddly uplifting. Because of some of the language used, I only recommend this to readers 15 and up.
You will not regret reading this truly heart wrenching and yet, inspiring story.
While the book certainly makes clear the brutality of slavery, Stowe’s novel stands out because many of the slave owners are portrayed as showing kindness toward their slaves. By humanizing instead of demonizing the slaveholders, Stowe allows a much broader audience to relate to her book, rather than alienating them immediately. For instance, Mrs. Shelby, the wife of Tom and Eliza’s first master, sought to make slavery beneficial for her slaves: “I thought, by kindness, and care, and instruction, I could make the condition of mine better than freedom—fool that I was!” While uneasy about the morality of slavery, she still hopes to make the best of the situation. However, when financial difficulties force the Shelby’s to sell Eliza and Tom to a trader, she realizes that slavery is too deeply rooted of a problem to gloss over with kindness. As Mrs. Shelby describes, “This is God’s curse on slavery…a curse to the master and a curse to the slave.” No matter how kind the slave owner, the day will come when they can no longer protect their slaves from the darker side of slavery, as shown by the Shelby’s plight and again when Tom is sold away from the plantation of his second owner, St. Clare.
However, Stowe’s criticism is not limited to Southern slave owners. One of her characters, Senator Bird, is a northerner who supports the Fugitive Slave Act in congress. However, Stowe forces him to confront the implications of his words when the runaway slave Eliza appears on his doorstep with her child, desperate for help. As his wife says, “you can talk all night, but you wouldn’t do it…turn away a poor, shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway?” Rather than attacking the indifference of northerners towards slavery, Stowe appeals to the humanity of her readers and has faith that they too lack the heartlessness to turn away a fugitive in need. Likewise, Stowe introduces the character Miss Ophelia, a northern woman who decries the injustice of slavery and yet cannot bear to touch a slave due to her own inner prejudice. Like Bird, she too realizes that words are easy to say, but are hollow compared to actions. As St. Clare tells her, “…if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be willing to do as Christ did,–call them to us, and put our hands on them.” Speaking out against slavery is important, but so is seeing slaves as fellow people, not just a stain on society to be erased.
Through the characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe addresses many different perspectives on slavery, ranging from Mr. Wilson, who dislikes slavery but objects to runaway slaves on legal grounds, to St. Clare, who clearly sees the evil of slavery and yet does nothing to stop it. In every case however, Stowe forces her characters to reconsider their actions when confronted with the reality of slavery, and implicitly challenges her readers to do the same. While slavery in America has long been abolished, the self-denial of Stowe’s characters is still reflected in people’s attitudes towards modern issues such as discrimination, refugee crises, and climate change. In each case, there are people like Senator Bird who proclaim the need to compromise because they have never witnessed the reality of the situation first hand, or like St. Clare who understand the problem but believe there is nothing they can do about it. As modern political discourse grows increasingly polarized, it is important to look back at Uncle Tom’s Cabin and understand how empathy with those you hope to convince is far more compelling than direct criticism.
Then I get to the last Chapter where our author brings to account both the North and the South. Both are held responsible, both are guilty. The South for carrying out the atrocities and the North for standing by allowing it to continue. But our author didn't stop there. She went on to throw blame and guilt on the leaders of Christianity for twisting God's Word to justify the actions of both North and South. Both sides could not be right and the treatment of slaves in the North was not what it should have been if one believed in the Word of God. After reading the last Chapter I applaud Harriet Beecher Stowe for having the courage to write such a book in such a trying time as our nation was living then. She was truly a woman of courage and inspiration. I wish I had read this years ago and I highly recommend it to all who are interested in the history of this country.