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Uncle Tom's Cabin: 01/23/07

Uncle Tom's Cabin

My third read for the "Winter Challenge" was harder than the second. I normally like Harriet Beecher Stowe's style of writing but the other stories I've read were written for fun. She made a comfortable living as a writer of boys adventure novels (under the pen name "Christopher Crowfield") and was a neighbor and mentor of Mark Twain. Uncle Tom's Cabin had a definite political agenda and while it proved to be a significant and influential story (as well as a best seller) it is a flawed story.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired to write Uncle Tom's Cabin after one of her servants admitted to being a run away slave. Then later she witnessed a desperate mother cross an icy river to save her son from being sold. These along with her heart felt anti-slavery views compelled her to write a story outlining the evils of slavery. (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center)

The book was originally serialized abolitionist newspaper, The National Era. Like Dickens' many serialized novels, the style changes significantly between each chapter. These changes aren't as apparent when the chapters are divided up by days, weeks or months between publication dates but when they sit next to each other in bound form and can be read one after the other the changes can be very jarring and off putting.

As Uncle Tom's Cabin is meant to illustrate all the evils of slavery, all the different aspects of society are represented through a large cast of characters. A lot of these characters get in the way of the central characters: Eliza, George, Harry and "Uncle" Tom. Eliza, George and Harry are the examples of the good that can come at the end of slavery and Tom is the martyr to the status quo.

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