Uncle Tom's Cabinby Harriet Beecher Stowe
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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.
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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—'twas 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 'twere,' 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
'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.
What People are Saying About This
Meet the Author
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) depicted life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the U.S. and Britain and made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery tangible to millions.
Elizabeth Ammons is the Harriet H. Fay Professor of Literature at Tufts University. She is the author of Conflicting Stories: American Women Writers at the Turn into the Twentieth Century, Edith Wharton’s Argument with America, and Brave New Worlds: How Literature Will Save the Planet. She is the editor or co-editor of many books, including Tricksterism in Turn-of-the-Century American Literature: A Multi-Cultural Perspective, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: A Casebook, American Color Writing, 1880-1920, Short Fiction by Black Women, 1900–1920, and the Norton Critical Edition of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.
- Date of Birth:
- June 14, 1811
- Date of Death:
- July 1, 1896
- Place of Birth:
- Litchfield, Connecticut
- Place of Death:
- Hartford, Connecticut
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The book that inspired the Civil War. A deep and very accurate tale of life as a slave on plantations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At first going into this book I didnt think I would like it. But after reading for a couple days I started to get deeper and deeper into the characters' world, getting used to the way they spoke and felt. But this book is for people who good at complex words. Now before you look at another book let me tell you this: the words in the book are not as complex as you might think, when I said there were complex words I didnt mean the entire book was just filled with words that were impossible to understand, I meant that the author just uses slightly more complex words to describe a character's actions, emotions, or thoughts. But you dont need to worry about any of that, just do what everyone else does, highlight the words you dont understand and look them up! Thats why I got the nook in the first place
Cannot believe i had not read this classic before
Ok, the books slow at first and you almost want to stop reading, (at least thats how i felt) but then it gets really good, i promise. Its so sad the thungs that happen yet there are jyst do my joyous points aswell. You will laugh, cry, maybe even yell but it'll al be worth it, trust me.