Uncle Tom; A Synopsis Essay, Research Paper
Uncle Tom s Faith
In the novel Uncle Tom s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom, the main character, possesses a trait that sanctifies him from the rest of the characters. Uncle Tom s faith is his source of strength throughout the novel. This is portrayed socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Uncle Tom relies solely on his faith in God to assist him in all the trials, tribulations, and hardships that he endures. Tom never succumbs to the sin that those around him are so deeply engulfed. Tom s dedication to the Christian faith obviously sets him apart from the other characters in the story. However, without his unbinding belief in God, Uncle Tom would cease to be such a Christ-like figure.
The first method in which Uncle Tom s faith allows him to cope with the hardships of slavery is socially. One must understand that Uncle Tom is constantly paralleled to Christ during the course of events in the novel. Tom is the social leader of the slaves on the Shelby plantation. Uncle Tom s cabin is the focal point of fellowship for the slaves. This is because everybody perceives Tom as a mentor, and also because Aunt Chloe, his wife, is a fantastic cook. His charismatic personality allows him to lead and organize their religious meetings which are held in his home as well. One can see how Tom s faith allows him to be a social leader among the slaves. Stowe says on page 35 that,
Uncle Tom was a sort of patriarch in religious matters, in the neighborhood. Having, naturally, an organization in which morale was strongly predominant together with a greater breadth and cultivation of mind that obtained among his companions, he was looked up to with great respect, as a sort of minister among them.
Uncle Tom disallowed his recognition as an authoritative figure to become egocentric. Tom prayed with, touching simplicity and childlike earnestness (Stowe 35). As Tom s character develops, the reader can identify the sincere humility, loyalty, and submission of his heart. Despite the austere conditions of the time, Tom uses his social gifts to be a light to those he comes in contact with.
Uncle Tom also experienced emotional trauma due to the afflictions of slavery as well as social trauma. The reader learns that without his faith, Tom would not have acted in a Christ-like fashion. The point in the novel in which Uncle Tom is to be sold to Mr. Haley portrays how Tom s faith enables him to endure the emotional aspect of slavery s hardships. No, no, – I an t going. Let Eliza go, – it s her right! I wouldn t be the one to say no, – tan t in natur for her to stay; but you heard what she said! If I must be sold, or all the people on the place, and everything go to rack, why, let me be sold (Stowe 45). This quote demonstrates Uncle Tom s faith and his complete trust in God. He had the perfect chance to escape to Canada and potentially become a free man. Nevertheless, Tom refuses and decides to let fate take its toll. Immediately, Uncle Tom thinks of the other slaves on the plantation and he puts himself in their shoes. This also shows his compassion; the same compassion that Christ has bestowed on all of us. Tom, over the years, has formed many emotional relationships with the people he is about to dismiss from his life. His faith in God, on the other hand, is stronger than the emotional ties he has built with his fellow slaves, including his wife. Uncle Tom sacrifices himself and is willing to be sold in order to save the plantation from chaos.
One can now see how Tom s faith has helped him endure the social and emotional aspects of slavery. However, Uncle Tom s faith also aided him in withstanding the spiritual aspect as well. As the novel progresses, Tom s faith is tested more and more. It would have been easy for Uncle Tom to have lost hope and given up. On the contraire, Tom s faith strengthens as the novel comes to a close. He knows that God has put him on this earth for a purpose. Due to his powerful faith, Tom isn t afraid of death, if that is God s will for his life. The reader finds Uncle Tom rationalizing human nature. Tom feels sorry and takes pity on the condition of the slave owner s souls. He does not hold a grudge, but prays for their misfortune.
Uncle Tom is in a constant hope for the future. This is also how he is able to endure the hardships of slavery on a spiritual basis. Tom s focus is not on the present, but the future. Although Tom realizes that the future may hold death, he knows that if that is the case then he will spend eternity with the Lord. Eva St. Clare helps Tom look at the bigger picture. When Eva is on the verge of dying she says, Oh, I am so happy, Uncle Tom, to think I shall see you in heaven, – for I m sure I shall (Stowe 314). Eva s optimism and angelic qualities during the events of the novel are a spiritual encouragement to Tom. This helps Uncle Tom concentrate on God and forget about his brutal conditions as a slave. Another example of this can be found when Eva is conversing with Uncle Tom and states, Uncle Tom, I can understand why Jesus wanted to die for us. Because I ve felt so, too (Stowe 299). Uncle Tom responds by saying that he doesn t quite understand what she means. Then Eva goes on to say,
I can t tell you; but, when I saw those poor creatures on the boat, you know, when you came up and I, some had lost their mothers, and some their husbands, and some mothers cried for their little children, and when I heard about poor Prue, oh, wasn t that dreadful! and a great many other times I ve felt that I would be glad to die, if my dying could stop all this misery. I would die for them, Tom, if I could (Stowe 299).
Here one can conclude that Eva does have compassion on all people. After Eva verbalized her feelings, Stowe goes on to say, Tom looked at the child with awe; and when she, hearing her father s voice, glided away, he wiped his eyes many times, as he looked at her (Stowe 299). Eva did indeed have a positive spiritual impact on Tom coping with the hardships of slavery.
The last way in which Uncle Tom s faith helps him endure the hardships of slavery is physically. Toward the end of the novel he is sold to Simon Legree, due to the death of Mr. St. Clare. Simon Legree was the most ruthless of all Tom s masters. Without faith, Tom would have acted in the manner that Mr. Legree desired him to do so. Tom would have been like any other character if he had succumbed to Legree s temptation. In the same way, if Jesus had sinned would He not be set apart from the human race? Uncle Tom displays how his faith helps him through the physical torture of slavery at the end of chapter twenty-three. At this point in the novel, it was time to come in from working in the fields and weigh one s basket. Tom s basket was weighed and approved. Now his new friend, who was called Miss Cassy, came forward to have her basket weighed. She said something to Simon Legree in French that nobody nearby understood. Nevertheless, Legree s countenance became demoniacal. When this incident occurred, Mr. Legree asked Uncle Tom to flog her. Uncle Tom responded by simply refusing at first and then he explained that there was no way possible that he could go through with it. Legree didn t take this kindly. He said, Ye ll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I ve done with ye! (Stowe 386). Stowe goes on in describing that Legree said this while, taking up a cowhide, and striking Tom a heavy blow across the cheek, and following up the infliction by a shower of blows (Stowe 386). Uncle Tom then raised his hand to wipe the blood from his face and exclaimed, Mas r, I never shall do it, -never! (Stowe 386). Without his faith, Uncle Tom would have surrendered to the physical hardships of slavery. However, possessing his faith, allowed him the capacity to withstand all physical suffering. This is made clear to the reader in the chapter. Simon Legree longs for something he cannot possess; faith. It is human nature to be selfish. When one does not have something, they do not want another individual to possess the same thing. This appears to be the situation in this case. Legree desires Uncle Tom s faith or faith in general, but he has no capacity for it. Instead, he tries to make Uncle Tom his scapegoat. Tom, however, stands firm when he says, No! no! no! my soul an t yours, Mas r! You haven t bought it, -ye can t buy it! It s been bought and paid for, by one that is able to keep it; -no matter, no matter, you can t harm me! (Stowe 387).
To be honest, reading Uncle Tom s Cabin was no easy task. The story does have an impact that resides in my brain however. To think that slavery was actually a way of life in our own country, the United States of America, is unbearable. The idea that there are inferior and superior human beings is absurd. Nevertheless, this still goes on in our country to this very day. Reading Uncle Tom s Cabin has made me more alert of my actions, not only toward people of the different races, but people of the opposite sex as well. I think that Uncle Tom s Cabin should be a mandatory reading in high schools nationwide. Our country has come a long way since Uncle Tom s era, but it is ironic how history has the propensity of repeating itself.