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Uncle Tom’s Cabin begins with a conversation between two Englishmen, Mr. Shelby and Mr. Haley on a farm in Kentucky. They discuss the sale of Mr. Shelby’s slaves to Mr. Haley, a slave buyer. Mr. Shelby risks losing his land and property (including his slaves) as he has fallen into debt. Negotiating, Mr. Shelby offers his best slave, who their family refers to as Uncle Tom. Uncle Tom is described as a good and trustworthy Christian man. Unfortunately, Mr. Haley informs Mr. Shelby that one quality slave won’t be enough, and that he needs to add another boy or girl in to close a deal. Despite Mr. Shelby’s hesitance, he agrees to selling a slave boy named Henry, who’s mother, a Eliza, is Mrs. Shelby’s close personal maid, after Mr. Haley sees and is impressed by the boy. Knowing he will have to talk to his wife as she is not aware of their financial situation, Mr. Shelby tells Mr. Haley that he will have to get her permission as well first. Eliza, worried after seeing the two men talking, asks Mrs. Shelby if Mr. Shelby is going to sell her son; ofcourse, unknowing of her husband’s debt, she reassures Eliza that they would never even think of doing something like that. The narrative switches over to the backstory of the beautiful young woman Eliza. She is married to an exceptional mulatto (half white and half black man) named George, who works in a factory, meaning the two are separated from each other. They have previously lost two of their children, making Eliza especially protective of her last surviving son, Henry. George’s innovation and hard work earns him respect in the factory, and he invented a machine that makes their work faster which catches the boss’s admiration. In his internalized insecurity, George’s master removes him from the factory and puts him to do simple and menial work. Back to present time, George visits Eliza and tells her of his plans to run away to Canada to avoid his master marrying him to another slave woman, and that he plans to work until he can buy Eliza and Henry’s freedom. Later on that evening, Mr. Shelby tells Mrs. Shelby of the situation. She is horrified as their family has formed personal bonds to Tom and Eliza’s families. She offers up her own valuables to try and save them. She is desperate to avoid losing Tom and taking Eliza’s young son away from her. Mr. Shelby finally gets Mrs. Shelby to understand that there is no other way; it’s between losing two slaves and losing everything. Coincidentally, Eliza overhears their conversation. She moves quickly to pack and runaway with Henry, who is sleeping. Before she leaves, she stops by Tom’s Cabin to warm them. Aunt Chloe, Tom’s wife, is devastated as Tom is shocked. But Tom graciously pardons the Shelbys, knowing they wouldn’t do such a thing unless there was no other choice, and accepts that he will be sold. Eliza with Henry, flees to the North to reunite with her husband George. Mr. Haley goes to catch her, but is slowed down deliberately by Mrs. Shelby and the other slaves, in hopes of buying Eliza more time. Two slaves even warn her when Haley is close to catching them, and just barely escapes by going across the river border between Kentucky and the North. Eliza and Henry stay in a Quaker settlement, under the safety and transport of the Quakers. They happily rejoin with George and ready themselves for the trip to Canada. Haley has hired a slave hunter, Loker, to track and return Eliza and Henry to Kentucky. Back at the farm, Mas’r George, the Shelby’s son, is unwilling to let go of his friend Tom and promises him he will reunite with him and buy his freedom. Tom sadly parts with his family and Haley puts him on a Mississippi boat to be brought to the slave market. There, he meets a pure little white girl, who uses her positivity to spread love, and she quickly befriends Tom. Eva falls into the river, and Tom, being the hero he is, jumps in immediately to save her. Eva’s father, Augustine St. Clare, buys Tom in his gratitude and Tom goes back home with them in New Orleans. Tom becomes an important part of their family, and is especially close to Eva, who share a bond with the devotion to the Lord. George and Eliza are still on the run from Loker up North when they are found by Loker. In an attempt to capture them, Loker is shot in the side by George. As they are about to continue their journey, Eliza stops as she can’t just leave a man out to die. She convinces the Quakers and George to bring him with them so they can drop him off at the next Quaker settlement to be healed. Meanwhile in New Orleans, St. Clare is discussing slavery with his cousin Ophelia. Ophelia disagrees with slavery as an institution but personally, holds prejudice towards black people, making her a hypocritical racist. St. Clare, on the other hand, is not personally racist, but tolerates slavery as he feels there nothing he can do about it, making him a bystander. St. Clare, in an effort to give Ophelia an opportunity to rise above her ignorance, buys a young black girl named Topsy for Ophelia to educate and care for. Topsy was abused by her past master, disrupting her development, and cannot behave or become attached to others as a result. Ophelia has no patience for her, but Eva is Topsy’s friend and believes in her.Two years after Tom becomes apart of the St. Clare family, Eva becomes very sick and dies. Her death affects everyone: Ophelia becomes educated and loves the slaves, Topsy learns how to feel and trust, and St. Clare honors her memory by promising to set Tom free. Before he can officially and legally give Tom his freedom, St. Clare suddenly dies in a fight. With Tom’s help, he had found God and so at his death, was able to be reunited with his mother in heaven. His property is left in the hands of his mean and unstable wife, Marie. Marie sells all the slaves, and Tom is sold to an awful plantation owner in Louisiana. He meets Emmeline on the transport, she has been purchased by the plantation owner, Simon Legree, to be used as a sex slave (replacing his last sex slave, Cassy). Legree dislikes Tom from the start and it is made worse when Tom refuses to whip another slave. For disobeying Legree’s orders, he is given heavy beating; Legree makes it his mission to break Tom down and crush his faith. Tom later meets Cassy, and is moved by her story and brings her closer to God. Cassy and her daughter were separated, and Cassy had become pregnant again but killed the baby because it was better than having it taken from her and have it live in a cruel world. Tom Loker, now a changed man after the care and healing of the Quakers, help George, Eliza, and Henry to get to Canada and their freedom. In Louisiana, Tom is continuously beat down and begins to lose faith. Before Legree can finally break him, Tom has a vision of Christ and a vision of Eva, which gives him the courage to keep going on, his faith is strengthened. After Tom’s encouragement, Cassy escapes with Emmeline by pretending to be ghosts. Legree orders the overseers beat Tom because Tom won’t tell him where the two women ran off to. He is beaten near death, and yet he forgives Legree and the overseers. George Shelby suddenly comes, ready to buy Tom’s freedom, but finds he is too late as he watches his old friend die a hero. In a boat on their way to their freedom, Cassy and Emmeline meets George and goes with him and his family to Canada. Cassie realizes that Eliza is actually her sister, and the two are miracuously reunited. The whole family decides to travel to France to live in Liberia. George Shelby comes home empty handed and sets free all of his late father’s slaves, telling them about Tom and encourage them to live in his footsteps as good Christians. In the time this book was written, right after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written as propaganda to expose the reality of slavery in the South to the North. The book is propaganda as it argues to persuade its audience to ¬†adopt a progressive political position. The result was an uproar of anger and heated disagreements from both sides. The North was horrified and though the South were monsters, they had sympathy for the slaves. The South on the other hand, thought it was a bizarre exaggeration and felt like they were being slandered when they had done no wrong (by the time period’s laws anyways). The author, Harriet Stowe, wrote the novel to fight back against the Fugitive Slave Act, and meant it to advocate for the equality of all people and freedom. Each part serves to persuade the North and expose the South to the inhumanity of slavery and to highlight that the institution is un-Christian. Characters like Uncle Tom and Eva St. Clare represent Jesus like figures and are used to catch the attachment of Christian people. Other characters such as the Shelby’s, the St. Clare’s, and the Quakers show an ideal mindset, where as the character development in Tom Loker makes the transition more tangible. The book is not an accurate or realistic representation of a slave’s mind, but to show a different reality that was entirely possible.

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