Racism in "Uncle Tom's Cabin"

1591 Words May 20th, 2006 7 Pages
Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was the defining piece of the time in which it was written. The book opened eyes in both the North and South to the cruelties that occurred in all forms of slavery, and held back nothing in exposing the complicity of non-slaveholders in the upholding of America's peculiar institution. Then-president Abraham Lincoln himself attributed Stowe's narrative to being a cause of the American Civil War. In such an influential tale that so powerfully points out the necessity of emancipation, one would hardly expect to find racialism that would indicate a discomfort with the people in bondage. However, Stowe shows no apprehension in typifying her characters according to their various races. While this …show more content…
Even worse, Stowe seems to encourage this behavior amongst slaves. Uncle Tom is without a doubt made out to be an African Jesus—the symbols and parallels become increasingly blatant as the novel progresses. In placing him as the pinnacle of his race's character, the author encourages Tom's modest complacency. He accepts his condemnation to bondage in this world with barely a word of protest, and seeks his reward in an afterlife with the Lord. In promoting this kind of behavior, Stowe sets herself alongside the content Northerners who preached, "Slaves obey your master." In Topsy, the reader is presented with a character that is the bane of every master or Miss Ophelia-esque teacher. She is a troublesome young slave child who lies, cheats, steals and pranks her way through her futile life with no apparent will to learn or improve upon her sinful life. The girl responds to neither stern lessons nor harsh whippings, and appears to be resigned to wreaking havoc and chaos wherever she goes. There is no doubt that this mischievous slave serves a polemical purpose; Evangeline later converts her to a better way of life through showing her love, indicating that even the most hopeless of blacks only need genuine affection to lead them back to the correct

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