Read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Free Online
Book Title: Uncle Tom's Cabin|
The author of the book: Harriet Beecher Stowe
Edition: HarperCollins Publishers
The size of the: 32.80 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: October 1st 2011
ISBN 13: 9780007902262
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 2391 times
Reader ratings: 7.5
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ONE READER'S CONFUSION ABOUT WHY "UNCLE TOM" MEANS ANYTHING BUT HERO
3.0 stars. First, I am glad I have finally read this book given its historical significance and the very positive impact that it had on American history. That said, from a literary perspective, I didn't find this book to be particularly well written and am doubtful of whether it would be much remembered or considered a "classic" but for the aforementioned historical significance and the creation of the character of Uncle Tom (more on that below). The prose is not horrible, but neither is it exceptional. It's just okay.
Since I assume everyone is familiar with the substance and background of the book I will not summarize it here. Others have done a much bettermjob of it. However, I do want to share an observation about the main character, Uncle Tom, that struck me pretty hard.
Prior to reading this book, if you would have asked me about the character of Uncle Tom, I would have said that he was a character portrayed as a "weak willed" slave who did everything he could to please his white master no matter what abuses were heaped upon him. This opinion, wrong as I now think it is, would have been based in large part on the derogatory nature of the term "Uncle Tom" in the African American community as someone who has "sold out" their heritage and beliefs in order to be successful.
After reading the book, I don't think I can adequately express how STRONGLY I disagree with that characterization. I would place Uncle Tom among the pantheon of truly HEROIC figures in American literature. Granted, Tom was no Hollywood square-jaw who armored up and went Braveheart on the slave holders slaughtering them by the bushel. However, he was most definitely a HERO in the mold of "Gandhi" who NEVER ONCE...NEVER ONCE compromised his principals and belief in "non violence" and Tom CHANGED those around him (both white and black) for the better.
Tom's non violence came not from fear or cowardice, but from his deeply held Christian faith and his belief that he would rather suffer unjustly (as Christ did) than raise a hand to another. Whether you agree with that philosophy or not, it is beyond debate that to accept hardship rather than compromise your inner compass is called INTEGRITY...it's called COURAGE.
In one very memorable part of the book, Tom is ordered by his sadistic slave owner to whip a female slave. Tom refuses and is savagely beaten. Thereafter, Tom is repeatedly beaten because he continues to refuse to engage in conduct he finds reprehensible. Despite this repeated abuse, Tom NEVER, NEVER backs down or compromises on his beliefs. In fact, the book goes on to describe the slave owner's realization that while he may own Tom's body, he could never acquire his soul. FOLKS, FOR ME, THAT IS A HERO!!! How many people would subject themselves to that kind of abuse rather than rationalize their principals.
Reading that portion of the book, I was struck by the similarities between that scene and a speech given by Gandhi in the movie with Ben Kingsley (which I loved). While speaking to a group of South African's about the need for "non violent" protest Gandhi says (I am paraphrasing somewhat): ...This is a cause for which I am prepared to fight, but my friends there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill...However, fear not for we can not lose...They can beat my body, break my bones, even kill me...then they will have my dead body, NOT MY OBEDIENCE!!!...
I found Tom's struggle to be very similar and the character of Tom to be VERY HEROIC. For that reason alone, I bumped this up to 3 stars and HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book.
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Read information about the authorHarriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe was an American author and abolitionist, whose novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) attacked the cruelty of slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential, even in Britain. It made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery tangible to millions, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North. It angered and embittered the South. The impact is summed up in a commonly quoted statement apocryphally attributed to Abraham Lincoln. When he met Stowe, it is claimed that he said, "So you're the little woman that started this great war!"
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