While lying on her death bed, in Chapter 26 of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, little Eva says to the servants in her house who have gathered around her, "You must remember that each one of you can become angels" (418). In this chapter and the one before it, Eva has actively worked to make the people surrounding her into "angels," taken here to mean one who is saved by God. In chapters 33 and 34 of Stowe's book, Tom similarly works, though more quietly, to turn the other slaves at Simon Legree's plantation into "angels." Both of these scenes, and particularly the evangelical characters within them, reveal Stowe's Methodist theology, a theology that rejects the predestination of earlier American Christianity. In Stowe's theology "each one" of the people can be saved; God's love is universal. Original sin still exists, but now an individual is given control to escape this sin by embracing God's love. At the heart of the theology and the resultant morality that Tom and Eva evince, is a warm, knowable God, who is knowable through love, and the heart.
Eva is the most explicit in explaining the dynamic between God and his people. She explains this by asking Topsy, "don't you know that Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me" (412). Earlier in the book Tom had asked a similar question to a downtrodden woman on the boat with him: "Han't nobody never telled ye how the Lord Jesus loved ye, and died for you?" (324). God offers everyone this love, but it can only be claimed by loving God in return. Eva pleads with the people around her that they should, "pray every day," (419) so that they can find God as she has.
The way that Tom and Eva bring ...
... middle of paper ...
...ence was certainly one of the motivations behind the writing of the book. Through the death of her own child, it is probable that Stowe saw the pernicious effects of the breakup of a family, and gained sympathy for the plights of innumerable slaves. In her novel Stowe works to engender that same sense of sympathy in the reader.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. 24 Mar. 2002 http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/.
Jehlen, Myra. "The Family Militant: Domesticity Versus Politics in Uncle Tom's Cabin." Criticism 31 (Fall 1989): 383-400.
Railton, Stephen. Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive.
24 Mar. 2002 < http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc/. >
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin or, Life Among the Lowly. New York: Penguin Books, 1981.
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