Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Satisfactory Essays
Harriet Beecher Stowe's nineteenth century novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, gives incredible insight into the injustice of slavery practiced throughout America during the Civil War era. The story follows two plots, that of a runaway slave fleeing for freedom in Canada, and that of a faithful Negro servant being sold and traded in the ruthless southern slave markets. It is not only the parallel plots, however, that offer a sense of contrast to the story. Through depicting the slavery opposing Christian values and morality, the distinction between racism in the North and racism in the South of the United States, and the characters' differences of values and cynicism, contrast provides the book with an indisputable power to explore social morality of the time.

Contrast is most prominently used in Uncle Tom's Cabin to illustrate the parallel between slavery and Christian values. Religion's role demonstrates a source of hope for slaves, and contributes an ethical struggle to the theme of the story. Faith is depicted for the Negroes as their sole possession, their only hope in a country so readily accepting of their anguish. The representation of Negro faith is through protagonist Uncle Tom, an ethical man who surrenders himself, after the opportunity to escape, so that his profit may help his master. Ever trusting in the Lord, he is assured that he will always be protected. "There'll be the same God there, Chloe, that there is here." (Stowe, 95) His reluctance to renounce his religion ultimately leads to his persecution and death, however his piety remains an inspiration for other slaves. In contrast, for the Caucasian Americans, their religion and Christian values are the source of their struggle to overcome the social norms that oppose their beliefs. Miss Ophelia's character is one that develops greatly throughout her role in the story, ultimately deciding to adopt a Negro child and raise her Christian.

"There is no use in my trying to make this child a Christian child, unless I save her from all the chances and reverses of slavery;" (288) Faith and religion offer persuasive opposition to the hardships of slavery throughout the book.

In addition, the story's portrayal of racial notions varies greatly between the Northern and Southern states. The greatest contrast of region and background is the direction of the parallel plots. One notes that while Eliza's escape takes her north to Canada and freedom, the trade of Uncle Tom brings him further south, to further oppression of his people.
Get Access