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Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

#149: Oct. - Dec. 2016 (Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

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Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

Please use this thread to discuss the above chapters of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
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DWill

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Re: Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

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In this group of chapters we witness the running away of Eliza and Harry, together with the tactics Sam uses to delay Haley's pursuit of the pair; Eliza's narrow escape into Ohio; her deliverance to a "safe house" by the pro-Fugitive Slave Law senator; the departure of Tom for the southern plantations; the reappearance of Eliza's husband, George, incognito; and Haley's astute business deal that ends in the suicide by drowning of a young enslaved mother.

In Chap. 7 we learn what we could have inferred, that Eliza is nearly Caucasian in appearance. Is this primarily a plot device meant to make her absconding without interference more plausible? Is it a realistic touch by the author, in keeping with the choice a rich wife would make regarding her personal servant? Or is Stowe revealing some of her belief about Negro nature by casting a quadroon, in contrast to a full Negro, as a well-spoken and quite refined young woman? It is probably accidental that Eliza also embodies the utter depravity of the whole justification for slavery: that Negro blood makes Negroes suited for slavery (indeed, without it they would be helpless). Yet having mostly white blood doesn't make them ready for freedom.

On the last question above, a good resource is "Uncle Tom and the Anglo-Saxons: Romantic Racialism in the North," by George M. Frederickson, available from Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=MB8Zm ... th&f=false

Frederickson cites UTC as the most prominent example of the racial classifying that appealed to northern anti-slavery intellectuals. Has anyone picked up on Stowe's view of the Negro's inherent qualities and how they contrast with those of the dominant Anglo-Saxons?

What would be some observations about the varieties of tone Stowe employs in assaulting her target subject? We can see her opinions even through the titles she gives the chapters in this section.

It might be interesting to keep a count of all the permutations in the characters' posture toward slavery. Stowe seems determined to sketch just about any possible variation. On the slave side there is less variety, but surely a great difference between Tom and George (a difference that is possibly explained, in Stowe's view, by George's near-whiteness).
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Re: Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

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DWill, thanks for the link to Frederickson, very interesting read with some insight into Stowe's racial philosophy. For myself, I've definitely picked up on the different 'feel' for Stowe's 'lighter' and 'darker' characters. While Eliza and George's passability (that is, so light they can pass for white) may have been a plot device in Stowe's mind I think it also points to her own beliefs towards black people.

Based on the quotes in Frederickson's work linked about, Stowe seems to view black Africans and their descendants as more spiritual and emotional and almost embodying holy simplicity. We can see this in Uncle Tom's deep spirituality and passive acceptance of his fate--he of course is a Christ-figure as well.

In Chapters 7-12, with George being able to 'pass' and more freely interact within white society and therefore speak freely to white characters, leaves the reader with the impression that lighter characters have more intellectual depth. In particular I'm thinking of the strong and pointed dialogue that George has with his former employer in Chapter 11. As in previous chapters, I'm moved by George's passionate demand for freedom and to be treated as an equal to other men.

So, did Stowe see darker black folks as more spiritual and inherently christ-like due the their (supposed by white people) simplicity than lighter folks her were mixed with 'harder, intellectual' white blood? I would say most likely as she was a person of her time and romantic racialism/racism was prevalent in her social and intellectual world.
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Re: Uncle Tom's Cabin - Ch. 7 through 12

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Jpack wrote:DWill, thanks for the link to Frederickson, very interesting read with some insight into Stowe's racial philosophy. For myself, I've definitely picked up on the different 'feel' for Stowe's 'lighter' and 'darker' characters. While Eliza and George's passability (that is, so light they can pass for white) may have been a plot device in Stowe's mind I think it also points to her own beliefs towards black people.
Based on the quotes in Frederickson's work linked about, Stowe seems to view black Africans and their descendants as more spiritual and emotional and almost embodying holy simplicity. We can see this in Uncle Tom's deep spirituality and passive acceptance of his fate--he of course is a Christ-figure as well.
I get the impression that in that period educated folks were into classifying people, not just by race but also by national characteristics. You're right, Stowe does have some subdivision in mind regarding blacks. She tells us that Eliza was beautiful in the special way that a "quadroon" (1/4 black) can be. Stowe doesn't make explicit the mental differences as partial white blood shades into black, but as you say she seems to credit them with more depth of feeling and ability to believe via pure faith than Saxons typically can muster. I suppose that she might be consciously portraying blacks this way in order to make them seem as unthreatening as possible to readers. We might tend to assume that the North was already on board with abolition, but in fact Northeners needed to be won over.
In Chapters 7-12, with George being able to 'pass' and more freely interact within white society and therefore speak freely to white characters, leaves the reader with the impression that lighter characters have more intellectual depth. In particular I'm thinking of the strong and pointed dialogue that George has with his former employer in Chapter 11. As in previous chapters, I'm moved by George's passionate demand for freedom and to be treated as an equal to other men.

So, did Stowe see darker black folks as more spiritual and inherently christ-like due the their (supposed by white people) simplicity than lighter folks her were mixed with 'harder, intellectual' white blood? I would say most likely as she was a person of her time and romantic racialism/racism was prevalent in her social and intellectual world.
When I heard Mr. Shelby address Tom as "my boy," I thought Stowe was showing us how even kind masters rob their slaves of all dignity. Having read the later section where Augustine St. Clare uses the same form of address, I'm no longer sure that Stowe disapproves of this very paternalistic and degrading manner. St. Clare is otherwise pictured as the most enlightened of slave owners. In answer to the question you ask above, I think the answer is yes. But like you, I wouldn't blame her for it. It's just that as time wore on and we approached the civil right era, her views about race came to be viewed negatively in some ways.
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