Our nation was shaped by literature

I chose to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe because of its importance in laying the groundwork for the Civil War. I was intrigued by its renowned reputation and further engaged by its descriptive narrative. I am interested in analyzing the relationships between the main characters because the characters experience different interactions than we do today. The central protagonists thus far are George, a slave; George’s wife, Eliza; and Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, the slave owners. The relationship between Eliza and her husband grows strained as the story unfolds. Eliza is fearful as she observes her husband behaving like he never has before. “‘O, George! George! You frighten me! Why, I never heard you talk so; I’m afraid you’ll do something dreadful. I don’t wonder at your feelings, at all; but oh, do be careful – do, do – for my sake – for Harry’s!” (Stowe 25) My focus is on how even in the present day, we try to discourage our friends and spouses from making rash decisions.

The point of view of this story is told from the third person point of view. I feel that the story fits the time in which it was written, but it also is difficult to understand with our experiences today. The reason for this is because Stowe paints a picture of a world we are unfamiliar with, of treatment we have no perception of, of a societal structure favoring white men which has changed drastically in the past two centuries. While it is difficult to connect our own lives with the lives of the protagonists, we are nevertheless informed about a period in which times were not so easy. The text’s structure is comprehensible but Stowe’s casual diction is difficult to interpret in the present day and her choice of language is confusing. The central themes of the text are devotion as well as Christianity and how a person who is Christian cannot permit the institution of slavery. An interesting observation I noticed is that Stowe seems to be trying to communicate to the reader that as a Christian becomes more devout in one’s faith, the more that person cannot ignore and will not permit slavery.

Uncomfortable dispute and rebellion

Harriett Beecher Stowe’s classic novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin features a principal conflict between a black family, specifically a mother and her child, and their slave owner, who is a reasonable man but not without his qualms. The problem is that the mother, Sally, believes that her child will be sold, but her husband, George, and their owners, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, reassure her that there is nothing to fear. This conflict may be resolved simply through the process of time, as Sally learns to trust the married couple which owns her family and develops a stronger bond with them.

So far, what I enjoy about this book is its formal diction and morose tone. Foreboding, yet simultaneously offering a glimmer of hope, the beginning of this book is thought-provoking in numerous ways. Tension is evident between the owners and their slaves as well as George and Eliza. Eliza, startled by what she perceives to be a change in George’s personality, wants to maintain the status quo, but George wishes to change the situation. This facilitates their separation to protect one another, which they hope will mutually benefit both in the future.

Painting a startling portrait of the times, this book instantly captivates the reader and maintains a firm hold on his/her attention.