Summary of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Beecher Stowe

Chapter 1-12

Having lent a large sum, a farmer from Kentucky, named Arthur Shelby, faces a prospect of losing everything he owns. Although he and his wife, Emily Shelby, have established cordial relations with their slaves, Arthur still decides to sell two of them to Mr. Haley, a rough slave, to raise money and pay off his debts. The slaves in question are Uncle Tom, a middle-aged man whose wife and children are working on a plantation, and Harry, Eliza’s youngest son, Mrs. Shelby’s maid. When Shelby tells his wife about his agreement with Mr. Haley, she is horrified because she promised Eliza not to sell her son.

Eliza overhears Mr. Shelby’s conversation with his wife and, having warned Uncle Tom and his wife, Aunt Chloe, she takes Harry and runs north, hoping to find freedom along with her husband George in Canada. Haley pursues her, but the other two Shelby slaves warn her of danger. She miraculously manages to escape and cross the

half-frozen Ohio River to the border separating Kentucky from the North.

Chapter 13-19

Further events of the work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Beecher Stone unfold as follows.

Haley hires a slave-slave named Loker and his gang to bring Eliza and Harry back to Kentucky. The mother and child are on their way to the settlement of the Quakers, who agree to help move them to a safe place. In the village, they meet with George, who gladly reunites with his family to travel to Canada.

Meanwhile, Uncle Tom sadly leaves his family and his friend Mr. George, the youngest son of Shelby, and Haley carries him along the Mississippi River in order to sell on the slave market.

On the ship, Tom meets a young white girl named Eva with an angelic face and quickly makes friends with her. When Eve falls into the river, Tom dives to save her, and the girl’s father, Augustine St. Clair, gratefully agrees to buy Tom from Haley. Tom goes with him to New Orleans, where over time it becomes more indispensable as an employee and closer to Eve, with which he is associated with

devout Christianity.

In the North, George and Eliza continue to flee from the persecution of Locker and his men. When Loker tries to capture them, George shoots him, so they hide from the chase. Eliza convinces George and the Quakers in the need to bring the wounded Locker to a nearby settlement where he can be cured. Meanwhile, in New Orleans St. Clair discusses slavery with his cousin Ophelia, who opposes slavery as an institution, but does not lack prejudice against blacks. St. Clair, on the other hand, does not feel hostility towards them, but accepts slavery because he considers himself powerless to change the state of things.

Chapters 20-32

To help Ophelia overcome her prejudices, St. Clair buys Topsy, a young black woman who was cruelly bullied by the master, and also organizes training for Ophelia.

It’s been two years since Tom’s life with St. Clair, Eve is growing very badly. She gradually weakens, and then dies, seeing in the vision a heaven before death. Her death has a big impact on everyone who knew her: Ophelia begins to love slaves, Topsy learns to trust and feel affection for other people, and St. Clair decides to let Tom go home. However, not having had time to realize his intention, he was stabbed with a knife, trying to settle the conflict. When he dies, he finally finds God and follows him to reunite with his mother in heaven.

The cruel wife of Saint Clair, Marie, sells Tom to the vicious owner of a plantation named Simon Legri. Tom goes to the countryside of Louisiana with a group of new slaves, including Emmeline, whom Legri acquired for use as a sex slave, replacing her with the previous sex slave Cassie.

Legri feels a strong dislike for Tom, when he does not obey the order to whip his fellow slave. Tom is severely beaten, and Legri decides to finally suppress his faith in God.

Chapters 33-38

Tom meets Cassie and listens to her story. This slave girl was taken away from her daughter, she became pregnant again, but decided to kill the child, because she could not bear the fact that he would again be taken away from her, which would certainly have happened.

Around this time, with the help of Tom Locker, who became a different person after he was healed by the Quakers, George, Eliza and Harry finally managed to move from the vicinity of Lake Erie to Canada and get the long-awaited freedom. In Louisiana, Tom’s faith goes through a hard test of difficulties, and he almost ceases to believe. However, he had two visions (the first – Jesus, the second – Eve), through which his spiritual strength increases and gives him the courage to resist all the pains of a difficult time with Legri. He calls Cassie to flee.

Chapters 39-44

She does this, taking Emmeline with her, after she devises a trick – she and Emmeline decide to pretend to be ghosts. When Tom refuses to tell Legri, where Cassie and Emmeline are gone, Legri orders the warders to beat him.

When Tom is at death, he forgives Legri and the warders. George Shelby comes with money to buy Tom’s freedom, but it was already too late. He can only watch Tom die a martyr’s death.

Sailing towards freedom, Cassie and Emmeline meet George Harris’ sister and travel with her to Canada, where Cassy understands that Eliza is her daughter. The newly reunited family travels to France and then decides to go to Liberia, an African country where former American slaves live. George Shelby returns to the farm in Kentucky, where after the death of his father releases all slaves in honor of Tom’s memory. He encourages them to think about Tom’s sacrifice and lead a pious Christian life, as the deceased did.

Thus ends the work of Beecher “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. The novel produces an ambiguous impression.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”: the main characters

Uncle Tom is a kind, devout person, the protagonist of the work, since the story “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is named so in honor of this character. Even in the most unfavorable conditions, he always prays to God and finds a way to preserve his faith.

Tom suffers from the ill-treatment of Simon Legri, which undermines his faith in God, but he stands all the trials and dies the death of a Christian martyr. For a complete understanding of the image of this hero, we recommend to read the whole work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. The summary gives only a superficial idea of ​​it.

Aunt Chloe is the wife of Uncle Tom, the cook of Mr. Shelby. Chloe often appears as a cheerful, simple nature, but these traits only mask her more complex feelings.

The Shelby family

Arthur Shelby is the master of Uncle Tom in Kentucky, who sells him to the cruel Hailey to cover debts. An educated and kind person, Shelby, nevertheless, admits and perpetuates slavery. Stowe uses it to illustrate that the immorality inherent in slavery makes villains of all who practice it, and not only the most cruel masters depicted in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The brief content of this attitude to the slaves gives a description of a passive crime that the author can not justify.

Emily Shelby is Mr Shelby’s wife, a loving Christian who does not believe in the natural nature of slavery. She uses her influence on her husband to try to help Shelby’s slaves, and is one of many virtuous and shrewd female characters in the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the summary of which you just learned.

George Shelby, dubbed Tom “Mr. George”, is a kindhearted son of the Shelby family. He loves Tom and promises to save him from the cruelty of slavery. After Tom’s death, he decides to release all slaves on a family farm in Kentucky. More moral than his father, George not only has a good heart, but also acts according to his command.

The Harris family

George Harris is Eliza’s husband, an inquisitive and talented mulatto loving his family and willingly fighting for his freedom. He confronts the hunter for runaway slaves Tom Locker and is not afraid to shoot at him when the safety of his family is at stake.

Eliza Harris is Mrs. Shelby’s maid, George’s wife and Harry’s mother. Eliza is an intelligent, beautiful and brave slave. After she becomes aware of Mr. Shelby’s intentions to sell her son to Mr. Haley, she proves the strength of her mother’s love and fortitude by accomplishing an extreme escape. Crossing on the Ohio river ice floes Eliza Harris is the most famous scene of the novel.

Harry Harris is the son of Eliza and George, a little boy.

The Saint Clair family

Augustine St. Clair is Tom’s master in New Orleans, the father of Eva. It is a windy and romantic man, indulging in various pleasures. Saint Claire does not believe in God, drinks almost every day. But he adores his daughter, shows compassion for the slaves, but shares the hypocrisy of Mr. Shelby in that he sees the evils engendered by slavery, and yet he tolerates and practices. According to Stow, in the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” heroes like Augustine are rather negative characters.

Eva Saint Clair is the angel-like daughter of Saint Clair and Marie, also mentioned in the book as a small Eve (or Evageline). It is depicted as a perfect child – an example of a moral being and an impeccable Christian. She laments the existence of slavery and sees no difference between blacks and whites. While still a young girl, she becomes one of the most important figures in Tom’s life and in the entire work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, a summary of which is presented above.

Miss Ophelia is the cousin of St. Clair from the North (Vermont), who came to help him lead the household. Ophelia opposes slavery in an abstract, inactive manner. Nevertheless, she finds the slaves unpleasant and has a prejudice against them. After Eve’s death, through relations with Topsy, Ophelia understands her delusions and learns to look at slaves as human beings. Stowe hopes that many readers of the North will recognize themselves in Ophelia from the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”: reviews of the inhabitants of the North were especially important for the writer, as they, after reading the work, may revise their views on slavery.

Marie is the wife of Saint Clair, an egocentric woman. Stupid, capricious, she is the opposite of the ideal woman who appears more than once throughout the novel.

Other characters

Quakers – a group of Christians, who appeared in the middle of the 17th century in England, dedicated herself to achieving the inner understanding of God without the use of religion, clergy, external rites. Quakers have long contributed to promoting social reform and peace. They help George, Elise and many other slaves. In the novel Beecher Stowe “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” the author uses these characters to portray Christianity, free from hypocrisy, self-righteous display, fanatical prescriptions. This kind of Christianity, he suggests, can play a decisive role in the abolition of slavery.

Senator and Mrs. Byrd. Mrs. Byrd is another example of a virtuous woman. She tries to influence her husband. Senator Byrd is an example of a well-intentioned person who is sympathetic to the causes of abolitionism, but nevertheless remains to rest on his laurels, trying to preserve the status quo.

Tom Locker is the slave-hunter Hailey hired to return Eliza, Harry and George. Tom Loker first appears on the pages of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a rough, cruel man. George shoots him when he tries to capture them, and after the Quakers heal, Loker is transformed and decides to join the Quakers and stay with them.

Mr. Haley is a slave who bought Uncle Tom and Harry from Mr. Shelby. A rude man, Hayley exposes himself in the image of virtue, who treats slaves well. However, in reality it was not so, the treatment of slaves was often rude and cruel.

Topsy – a wild, uncultured slave whom Ophelia tries to change for the better, gradually, following the example of Eve, teaches to love and respect others.

Simon Legri is the evil, ruthless master of Tom on the plantation in Louisiana. A vicious barbarian, a disgusting man, Legri promotes the spread of violence and hatred towards slaves.

Cassie is Legri’s slave and Eliza’s mother, a proud and intelligent woman who has developed a cunning way to escape from her master.

Emmeline is a young and beautiful slave girl that Legri buys for herself to replace Cassie and make her mistress. She was raised as a pious Christian.

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Summary of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Beecher Stowe