Friday, October 22, 2010

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe

Uncle Tom lives in Kentucky under the kind Shelby family, where he has had the life of ease, even as a slave in America. He's treated with respect, both him and his family. He has helped work the Shelby's land for years. Tom loves the Lord, and serves Him all the days of his life. His heart is set on winning others to Jesus and serving the saved and unsaved. He is joyful. He has everything a slave could ask for.

But Shelby has some debts to settle. Tom, the most valuable slave on the plantation, is sold, and sent with a trader named Haley to be sold. It is the beginning of one of the greatest adventures ever put to paper. It is an adventure of sorrow, broken hearts, and a love that is more redeeming than any human love.

I was greatly impressed by this book.  Before I was finished with it, I read in a curriculum that many writers and publishers were very critical of Stowe's work, that many did (and do) not like it.  Even then I wasn't quite sure why, but at the end I was confused.  How could anyone dislike this book?  Even if the story is too sad for you - how can you not at least see the beauty of the characters and how Stowe formed each sentence?  It was all careful, taking one step, one breath at a time.  The book was like that.  Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.  Methodical, like breathing.  And what's the beauty of breathing?  It keeps you alive without you even knowing it.  In a sense, Uncle Tom's Cabin was like that.  Every breath was perfect, I didn't even realize it, but it kept the story going in a way that I will never, ever forget.

There isn't much else to say about this story...other than please, I beg you to read this book.  I laughed, I cried my eyes out, I went numb with fear and hatred, I was captivated by the love of God.  And Tom, the slave who is now free, will always be a hero.


  1. This review has reminded me that I have yet to finish reading this book. I got it from a sale when Doulos (the decommissioned floating bookstore) came to Malaysia. I was quite young at that time and this book was too deep and difficult for me. I gave up after the first 10 or so pages. I really need to pick up this book again...

  2. I have never read the book, but I think the reason so many people dislike Stowe's work is because of what it portrays. When it came out, during slavery in the US and not long before the War Between the States, it was a very controversial book. Many believed it gave an inaccurate view of slavery in the south--making the southern people appear barbaric. I can't say exactly what was inaccurate about the view of slavery or southern people that this book gave--since I've never read it--but from what I've heard and read, this is why it is so criticized. 

    Good review, though! I've always been intrigued about this book, if for no other reason than to see how a Northern woman portrayed the South and slavery.

  3. Personally, I don't believe it made Southern people on a whole look barbaric.  I think back then people would have taken it that way, but I took it as her addressing an issue of a part of slavery in the south.  Not all of it was that bad!  However, this book does portray how some men want power, and how other men want comfort, and how some men just want to love, and the difference between how they treat their slaves and their families.  I was really impressed by it and hope you will read it - it's sooooo beautiful!!