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||AUTHORíS POINT OF VIEW
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AUTHORíS POINT OF VIEW
In Uncle Tomís Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stoweís point of view is to persuade people that slavery is wrong and immoral. It tells the story of a harsh slave trader who gets Uncle Tom from a debt to a kind plantation owner. Simon Legree, who owns an isolated plantation on the Red River, buys Tom. Legree is cruel and sadistic, and his plantation is a living hell for his slaves. They are worked so hard they have no time to think or feel, and Legree sets them against each other. Missing are the family ties of the Shelby plantation in Kentucky or the gaiety of the St. Clare household in New Orleans. Tom almost loses his faith in God, but recovers it and continues his work among the other slaves. He becomes a friend with Cassy, a good but despairing woman who has been Legree's mistress. Cassy arranges for her and Emmeline, the girl Legree has chosen as his next mistress, to escape, and she urges Tom to join them. He will not, but he allows himself to be savagely beaten by Legree rather than reveal what he knows about the women's whereabouts.
Legree has no real human ties. He has sexual relations with slave women whom he buys for that purpose, and his main companions are the barbaric Sambo and Quimbo. Legree is interested in growing as much cotton as he can, as his bet with several other plantation owners indicates, but he also seems to enjoy abusing his slaves, particularly Uncle Tom.
Simon Legree comes from New England, where a loving and God-fearing mother raised him. At one time, the forces of good and evil struggled in his soul, but evil has long since won out. Stowe uses Legree's memories of his mother to explain why he is so superstitious--a weakness on which the plot depends. Not only does Legree drink and swear--important sins in Stowe's eyes--he displays a deeper evil as well. Her descriptions of the creepy, rotting plantation and the hanging moss, the wild carousing of Legree and his lieutenants, suggest that Legree may be the devil himself. Legree reinforces this suspicion when he urges Tom to "join my church."
Stowe's aim in writing Uncle Tom's Cabin was to convince Americans that slavery was evil, and she hammers her point home on almost every page. Stowe shows not only the horrors that slaves endure--the separation of husbands and wives and mothers and children, overwork, physical punishment--but also the effect of slavery on the characters of the masters, like Alfred St. Clare and his son, Henrique.
The worst thing about slavery, as Stowe points out, is that it destroys the family. Slave mothers who have lost their children appear in almost every chapter. In addition, slavery destroys the soul. Several characters--Prue, Cassy, and to some extent, George Harris--have been so embittered by their experience that they no longer believe in God. Even Tom has to struggle to maintain his faith.
Although she indicts slavery as evil, Stowe also has harsh words for the Northerners who are unwilling to accept black people. She cannot decide how slavery should be abolished, except by the actions of individual slave owners like George Shelby. But she fears that if slavery continues, America will be severely punished by God.
Stowe doesnít just condemn all slave owners. Mr. Shelby, the owner of a Kentucky plantation, generally treats his slaves well, but he decides to sell two of them, Uncle Tom and little Harry, to pay off a debt. Although he regrets the sale, Shelby feels he has no other...
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