Book review: Uncle Tom’s cabin
Harriet Beecher-Stowe wrote the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin out of anger against slavery. Uncle Tom’s tragic story in 19th-century America was so powerful it helped the anti-slavery movement. It really contributed to the abolition of slavery. The events in the book are largely true, many of them experienced by the writer or her friends. Many slaves were in the same situation as Tom and experienced the same horrible things. Enormous dramas took place for years before slavery was abolished, partly thanks to this book. An impressive book of a century and a half old, with a theme that is still topical.
Review: Uncle Tom’s cabin
- Details of the book
- Uncle Tom’s cabin: the story
- Furious pamphlet against slavery
- An impressive story
- Multiple storylines make it exciting
- The book provides food for thought
- Fragments that characterize the book
Details of the book
- Title: Uncle Tom’s cabin
- Original title: The Negro Hut (1854)
- Translation of: Uncle Tom ?? s Cabin, or Life among the lowly (1852)
- Writer: Harriet Beecher-Stowe
- Publisher: Het Spectrum
- Edition: Hardcover, 479 pages
Uncle Tom’s cabin: the story
Uncle Tom is a black slave on Mr. Shelby’s plantation in Kentucky. Mr. Shelby is reasonably good with his slaves. Tom leads a good life on Shelby’s plantation, together with his wife Chloe and their children. But one day everything changes. Mr. Shelby is in debt and is forced to sell Tom and the young son of slave Eliza to a slave trader. Eliza refuses to give up her son and flees. Tom accepts his fate and is put on the boat south.
On the boat he meets the special girl Eva. When she falls into the water and Tom rescues her, she persuades her father to buy Tom. This is how Tom ends up in New Orleans, in the home of his friendly new master St. Clare. St. Clare respects and treats Tom well. When Eve falls ill and dies, St. Clare finds support in Tom, who in turn draws great strength from his faith in God. He intends to make Tom a free person, but before he can arrange it, he dies. Tom is sold along with all the other slaves. And this time he meets a much worse master.
Furious pamphlet against slavery
The author of the book is Harriet Beecher-Stowe, born in 1811, who wrote this book out of anger against slavery. When in 1850 a new law was passed (the Fugitive Slave Act) criminalizing anyone who helped slaves, she wrote a series of articles against slavery. These articles were compiled into this book in 1852. It broke all sales records and was a major contributor to the abolition of slavery. The events in the book are largely true, the writer or one of her friends experienced them herself. Many slaves ended up the same way Tom did. Families were separated, children were sold, slaves were made pregnant so that their children could provide money again. Enormous dramas took place for years – dramas that we can now hardly imagine – before slavery was finally abolished.
An impressive story
Reading this book doesn’t make you happy. The story paints a dramatic, but fair picture of the horrors that took place during that time. Unbelievable that black people were seen not as people but as animals or things, that you could sell when you wanted and with which you could do what you wanted.
Multiple storylines make it exciting
The different storylines that intertwine make the book exciting to read. Many different emotions are evoked during reading. Grief because of the tragedies the slaves have experienced. Anger towards the slave traders and the totally indifferent ?? accomplices ?? who made it all happen. Hope in reading the chapters about the runaway slave girl Eliza, and the chapters about the Shelby family, some of which were anti-slavery. Sometimes the book is quite Christian. Some excerpts are so steeped in faith that it might provoke some irritation. But it also provides inspiration at the same time. What else did you have as a slave to hold on to, if you were treated in a totally degrading manner? Faith gave Tom the strength to win mentally from his ghastly master; a nice fact.
The book provides food for thought
The book also makes you think about the situation in the world. Because slavery may have been abolished, there are still plenty of peoples that are oppressed and exploited, and there are still those who consider themselves above others because of their skin color or nationality. The fact that many people did not want to help fled slaves, or even betrayed them, is terrible but unfortunately also recognizable in this time. The book is more than a century and a half old, but still wouldn’t look out of place on school literature lists.
Fragments that characterize the book
A man loved me to have children for the market. As soon as they were big enough, he sold them. Finally he sold me to a dealer.
Haley first saw an old man. He opened his mouth and looked inside, felt his teeth, made him stand up, take off his shirt, arch his back, and make several movements to see his muscles. Then he went to the next and took the same trials.