Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States, so much so in the latter case that the novel intensified the sectional conflict leading to the American Civil War. (From feedbooks.com)
The curriculet is being added to your library
Chapter 1 - In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity
Even in the first few paragraphs of the novel, the narrator's language sets the stage for the purpose of the text. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this novel in order to convince people, specifically Northerners, that slavery was cruel and immoral. Her choice of a third person, omniscient narrator allows her to pass judgement on the character's actions, while still seeming somewhat objective. The setting (Kentucky, a slave state) allows her to give her Northern readers a picture of what slavery was like in Southern states. As you read the novel, consider Stowe's choices of characters, plot and diction in light of her purpose for writing.
The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow" has often been attributed to "Jump Jim Crow", a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832 and was used to satirize Andrew Jackson's populist policies. As a result of Rice's fame, "Jim Crow" had become a pejorative expression meaning "Negro" by 1838. When southern legislatures passed laws of racial segregation – directed against blacks – at the end of the 19th century, these became known as Jim Crow laws. Watch the video below to see the song performed. (This annotation contains a video)
Mr. Shelby calls himself a 'humane man' even though he is discussing the sale of another person. Stowe intends this phrase to be
Why is the word humane repeated?
The conversation shows that these men believe slaves are
"Spile" means spoil.
Notice that the plot is interrupted so that Stowe can reinforce some ideas about the institution of slavery. Consider how she attempts to further her argument that slavery should be abolished.
"Goosie" means 'silly' and comes form a nursery rhyme called Goosey, Goosey Gander.
Chapter 1 Quiz
Here is a brief introduction to Harriet Beecher Stowe's life and how it relates to her reason for writing this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 2 - The Mother
A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, allowing for much greater productivity than manual cotton separation. The fibers are processed into clothing or other cotton goods, and any undamaged seeds may be used to grow more cotton or to produce cottonseed oil and meal. The first modern mechanical cotton gin was created by American inventor Eli Whitney in 1793, and patented in 1794. It used a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, while brushes continuously removed the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. Whitney's gin revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States, but also led to the growth of slavery in the American South, and has been identified as a contributing factor to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Modern automated cotton gins offer far higher productivity than their hand-powered forebears.
"His dark eyes flashed like live coals" is an example of a(n)
Chapter 2 Quiz
Chapter 3 - The Husband and Father
George's feelings about slavery are most likely shared by Stowe. However, she chooses a character who is a slave to communicate them to the reader. Why might she make this choice? Even at the time, it would have been understandable to Stowe's audience that African Americans were against slavery. However, because Stowe knew that most of her white audience might need to be convinced to share this viewpoint, she chooses not to have a white character share anti-slavery view. Consider the rhetorical strategies Stowe continues to use to convince her audience.
A theme is arising in the book, and you can watch this video to learn about it. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 2-3 Quiz
Chapter 4 - An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin
In the 1700s American slaves were often worked to death. There was little time for things like beautiful African hairstyles. So most women covered their hair in a rag. Not only to hide their undone hair but sometimes to even hide things like ringworm, which left places on your head where no hair would grow. Those who worked indoors were able to do their hair. For them braiding was common. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the effect does the description of the "table, somewhat rheumatic in its limbs" have on the image of the room?
Notice the difference in the dialect, or speech patterns, of Eliza and George contrasted with Uncle Tom and Chloe. Dialect means a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group people that speak that language. Differences in ways of speaking may be not only regional speech patterns, but also defined by other factors, such as social class. Consider what information is being communicated about the characters by the way they speak.
While Stowe meant her novel to be a treatise against slavery, she reinforced and helped popularize negative stereotypes through the characters of her novel. The "Mammy" stereotype of the kind black woman who cared for white children, sometimes even placing their needs above her own children, is clearly evident in Aunt Chloe's character. The "Mammy" stereotype was used in popular culture, often to sell domestic products. Aunt Jemima is an example of the stereotype being used to sell a product. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following quotes does NOT contain figurative language?
"De good book" refers to the Bible.
Spirituals were an important aspect of slave culture. Watch the video below to explore their significance. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 4 Quiz
Chapter 5 - Showing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners
In the first few chapters, Mr. Shelby's character is contrasted with Haley and George's cruel owner. It seemed that Stowe was setting up the well-known dichotomy of the "good" master versus the "evil" master. Here, she destroys this separation. Mr. Shelby is not "good" or "honorable," as pointed out by his wife's reaction. He sells the best slaves because they will earn the highest price. He takes the clearly untrustworthy 'promise' of Haley that he won't sell Tom to anyone cruel. What is Stowe's purpose? She wants to make sure that all actions associated with slavery, the most "humane" or the most cruel, are evil. Pay attention to how this theme is continually developed throughout the novel.
Mrs. Shelby's sentiments reflect
Mr. Shelby sold his good natured slave to "a man of leather" and won't even say goodbye to him. What do these details say about his character?
Tom's reaction to the news that he has been sold can be best described as
The phrase "Uncle Tom" has also become an epithet for a person who is slavish and excessively subservient to perceived authority figures, particularly a black person who behaves in a subservient manner to white people; or any person perceived to be a participant in the oppression of their own group. The negative epithet is the result of later works derived from the this novel. At the time of the novel's initial publication in 1851 Uncle Tom was a rejection of the existing stereotypes of minstrel shows; Stowe's melodramatic story humanized the suffering of slavery for White audiences by portraying Tom as a Christlike figure. However, the Uncle Tom, or good, gentle, religious and sober slave was developed from the character. Images of Uncle Toms were another favorite of advertisers and "Uncle Ben" is still being used to sell rice. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below for a brief overview and a dramatic version of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 5 Quiz
Chapter 6 - Discovery
Compare and contrast Mr. Shelby and Mrs. Shelby's reaction to the news that Eliza has run away. What does their reaction say about their character? How might this be related to religion and gender?
Mr. Shelby's formal tone is meant to communicate a sense of ________ to Haley.
The phrase “to cut one’s stick,” meaning “to leave,” appeared in print in the early 19th century and was probably in colloquial use long before then. The “stick” in the phrase is a walking stick, commonly used on long journeys by foot in those days, and finding, cutting and smoothing a suitable stick in preparation for such a trip was as sure a sign the person was truly leaving as packing a carry-on bag would be today. Thus to say “get your stick and get on it,” or just “get on the stick,” would have been a way to say “get going.”
When Andy says to Black Sam "'can't ye see through a ladder,'" what does he mean?
Why is Black Sam going to "'look out for de hosses'"?
Andy and Sam are
Chapter 6 Quiz
Chapter 7 - The Mother's Struggle
The power of a mother's love is central to this chapter. Watch this video to learn more about this theme. (This annotation contains a video)
In Stowe's conception of womanhood, the mother is
The river "which lay like Jordan between her and the Canaan of liberty" is a reference to the Jordan River, a 156 mile long river in West Asia flowing to the Dead Sea. The State of Israel and West Bank border the river to the west, while Jordan lies to its east. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan takes its name from this river. The river has significance in Judaism and Christianity, it being the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist. The Jordan is a frequent symbol in folk, gospel, and spiritual music, or in poetic or literary works.
Which of the following describes Tom's feelings about Haley?
Notice, again, that Mr. and Mrs. Shelby see themselves as very different than the slave trader. What is Stowe trying to communicate with these details?
What does Andy's wink help readers realize?
Eliza's leap holds strong significance in the novel. It has symbolic properties, especially in light of all slaves' journey from bondage to freedom. Consider what motivated her to make this leap. How does this connect to Stowe's audience and purpose for writing the novel? Also watch the video below to learn more about symbolism. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 7 Quiz
Chapter 8 - Eliza's Escape
Tone and mood are two elements of literature you should be familiar with. This video will explain more. (This annotation contains a video)
Notice that for the second time in a row, Stowe uses the same name for two different characters. The first was the name George, who was George Harris, Eliza's Husband and George Shelby, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby's son. Now, we have Uncle Tom, the namesake of the novel, and Tom Loker, a slave hunter. Consider Stowe's purpose for these choices and how it relates to her intent.
How does the direct characterization (description of their appearance) of Marks and Tom give readers insight into their character traits?
Why does Stowe include this scene in which slave traders and hunters swap stories about what female slaves will do for their children?
What deal do Mark and Tom strike with Haley?
Marks and Tom are going over missing slave posters and discussing the people with only a desire for profit. In Stowe's depiction of the men, she attempts to expose their dishonest and cruel nature. In fact, she seeks to dehumanize them as most have dehumanized slaves. Think about what elements of their interaction help us understand Stowe's intention.
How does the tone of the chapter change when Stowe interjects the narrator's point of view?
Eliza's leap is one of the first miraculous happenings in the text, but the supernatural events do not end there. Consider why Stowe, a devout Christian, would include supernatural, really miraculous, events in the plot.
Stowe's characterization of Sam as the "comic darkie," a stereotype popularized in minstrel shows of the time, has been widely criticized. For some background, Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the proliferation of stereotypes such as the "happy-go-lucky darky on the plantation." However, in this instance, just as with Aunt Chloe, the negative stereotype is subtly undermined. Sam is seem as having a "native talent" for "political life," in other words, his actions are calculated. He is not a fool, but is rather, playing a fool, in order to get things done. However, is this short passage enough to overturn the strength of the stereotype in the rest of the text for readers of the novel? There is no definitive answer to this question. Continue to explore this idea as you see racial stereotypes come up in the novel. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 8 Quiz
Chapter 9 - In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man
When we talk about literature, it's impossible not to consider the point-of-view from which the story is told. This video will explain more... (This annotation contains a video)
The law that the Senator and his wife are discussing is a real historical fact. The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers. This was one of the most controversial acts of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a "slave power conspiracy". It declared that all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. Abolitionists nicknamed it the "Bloodhound Law" for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves. (This annotation contains an image)
The argument between John and Mary reflects the theme of
Think about how this dialogue is representative of the larger national conversation that Stowe hopes to encourage through writing this novel. On one side, you have the politics of the slave trade. Obviously, people had much to gain from free labor. In some sense, it was reasonable that slavery could continue so those people could continue to profit. On the other hand, you have morality, which at this time, would have been synonymous to religion. Whatever profit could be made from slavery was immoral. Even though many religious figures used religion to justify slavery (the idea was that white people had been chosen by God), there were many abolitionists, including Stowe, who believed that religion and slavery were opposing forces.
Why does Mr. Bird's comment make Mrs. Bird smile?
Harriet Beecher Stowe lost a child in infancy, an experience that made her empathize with the losses suffered by slave mothers whose children were sold.
When the abstract of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act becomes a real situation, how does Mr. Bird's point of view change? Describe what Stowe might be trying to clarify for Northerners through this situation.
Why is Mrs. Bird crying?
The bumpy carriage ride that becomes smooth can be seen as symbolic for
What details do readers learn about John's history?
Chapter 9 Quiz
Chapter 10 - The Property Is Carried Off
Which of the following words sets a somber tone for the chapter?
"Sold Down The River" refers to the Mississippi River. Slaves that "misbehaved" or made escape attempts were often sold to the Deep South, where punishments were harsher and slaves were treated worse. It was a method for breaking up family units and separating husbands and wives, parents and children, etc, as well as selling escapees or any other slave no longer considered worth the cost to keep.
When the narrator claims that "everything your money can buy, given with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest tear shed in real sympathy," what is meant?
These fetters are probably similar to the chains Haley puts on Tom. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe what this scene implies about Uncle Tom and George's relationship.
Chapter 10 Quiz
Chapter 11 - In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind
What is "this characteristic emblem of man's sovereignty"?
Chewing tobacco is a type of smokeless tobacco product. Unlike dipping tobacco, it is not ground and must be manually crushed with the teeth to release flavor and nicotine. Unwanted juices are then expectorated (spat). (This annotation contains an image)
Posters and advertisements for runaway slaves were common. An example of an ad is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
From French, literally ‘fire of joy’.
The conversation in this chapter is representative of two arguments about the treatment of slaves. Briefly describe the two sides of the argument, focusing on the claim, reasons, and refutations for each side.
From French, meaning in passing.
Slave women were forced to comply with sexual advances by their masters on a very regular basis. Consequences of resistance often came in the form of physical beatings; thus, an enormous number of slaves became concubines for these men. Most often the masters were already bound in matrimony, which caused tension and hatred between the slave and the mistress of the house. Many "mulatto" or racially mixed children also resulted from these relations. Because the "status of the child" followed that of his or her mother, the child of a white man would not be freed based upon patriarchal genealogy. These children also became a sore reminder for the mistress of her husband's infidelity. Many people have tried to justify this practice and claim that slave women willingly slept with their masters, however, enslaved women could not give consent because of their position. The practice of master-slave rape was a common institutional practice for creating more slaves. Famous cases of this debate include descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sarah "Sally" Hemings, his slave.
Briefly summarize Mr. Wilson's argument and George's refutation.
How does George's master intend to get George to comply?
Why does George believe his boldness is a good plan?
Chapter 11 Quiz
Chapter 12 - Select Incident of Lawful Trade
Pay attention to the structure of this chapter. There are three distinct parts: an auction scene, a scene of a family being torn apart and a scene where white passengers have a conversation about the practice of slavery. All three scenarios help the author achieve her purpose of arguing against slavery, but each in a different way. Consider which scene you personally find most persuasive, and consider how the best method of persuasion may shift depending on the audience. (This annotation contains an image)
Haley's inspection of the slaves to be sold conjures up what image for the reader?
In her argument against slavery, what type of appeal is most prominent in this section of the chapter?
Here, a debate on the deck of the ship takes place. There will be both pro- and anti-slavery arguments offered by each of the white passengers on the ship. Pay attention to how Stowe uses this dialogue to further both the plot and her purpose.
The women focus on slaves' ________, while the men are arguing about __________.
The mood of this passage can be best described as
What words create a sympathetic tone towards this women?
Here, Tom's character, especially as it is placed against George's rebellion, becomes extremely submissive. Although Stowe's use of Tom's character is meant to create sympathy, it also reinforces the condescending attitude of white people towards African Americans. Some have termed this "Romantic racialism" or "Romantic racism." Romantic racism is a form of racism in which members of a dominant group supposedly project their fantasies onto members of oppressed groups. Stowe imagines Tom as a good natured, simple man, and in doing so, makes his character static and unbelievable. As you read, keep an eye out for more instances of this attitude.
Why does Stowe capitalize the word Death?
Chapter 12 Quiz
Chapter 13 - The Quaker Settlement
There are many different ways to structure a book. Watch this video to learn about structure. (This annotation contains a video)
Brochetelle is a heavy cloth like brocade, usually made of silk and linen and often used for upholstery.
Quakers, or Friends, are members of a family of religious movements collectively known as the Religious Society of Friends. Most Quakers view themselves as Christian. Quakers were among the first whites to denounce slavery in the American colonies and Europe, and the Society of Friends became the first organization to take a collective stand against both slavery and the slave trade.
Here is an image of the Quaker cap described. (This annotation contains an image)
What are the Quakers debating?
Describe Stowe's purpose for the structure of the plot. Why would she include a scene of Tom and then directly follow with a scene of Eliza?
Again, Stowe uses religion to reinforce the need for slavery to end. Here, the unending love and kindness of the Quakers reunite a family and heal the wounds that slavery caused. This scene reinforces the willingness of the Quakers to practice civil disobedience against a system they find unjust. Simeon says he will "pay my fine" if he is caught hiding slaves again. Their sacrifice is juxtaposed against George's utter defiance and Tom's submissive acceptance of slavery.
Chapter 13 Quiz
Chapter 14 - Evangeline
Chateaubriand Francois Rene de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) was a French statesman and man of letters. He traveled in North America and wrote about his experiences. (This annotation contains an image)
Tom's characteristic passivity has been widely criticized; learn more about it in this short video: (This annotation contains a video)
Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, philosopher, and writer. Cicero held great love for his daughter Tullia, who suddenly became ill in 45 BC and died after giving birth to a son. Cicero was stunned. "I have lost the one thing that bound me to life" he wrote. (This annotation contains an image)
In Greek religion and mythology, Pan (seen below) is the god of nature and the wild. (This annotation contains an image)
Morocco, in this instance, is used to mean a fine, soft leather, made originally in Morocco, often used to bind books. (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly describe Haley's and Eva's father's arguments about the right price for Tom.
Watch the video below to see how Tom and Eva meet. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 14 Quiz
Chapter 15 - Of Tom's New Master, and Various Other Matters
Who is Augustine St. Clare?
In this book, we encounter several stereotypes and archetypes. This video will tell you more about archetypes. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the purpose of this anecdote about Augustin St. Clare's life?
How is Marie different than other women in the novel?
Miss Ophelia is probably the most round character in the text. She most closely resembles a real person, complex and complicated in nature. Pay close attention to how Ophelia is different from other female characters in the text.
Sandwich Islands is a former name for the Hawaiian Islands. (This annotation contains an image)
What character traits does Miss Ophelia posses?
To what is Miss Ophelia compared in this passage? What does this simile communicate about Ophelia?
What words in the description of the setting make the place seem foreign?
Again, the vision of the "mammy" stereotype appears in the text, although this time it seems to be a matter of praise. (Stowe is contrasting Eva's real mother and her "Mammy," to reinforce a positive sentiment towards the slave character.) A mammy is a Southern United States archetype for a black woman who, often enslaved, worked for a white family nursing the family's children. The term is rarely used in contemporary times and is generally considered an ethnic slur. (This annotation contains an image)
Both the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon are famous figures from the Old Testament. The Queen of Sheba was a monarch in Ethiopia, and King Solomon was the third king of all Israel. The Hebrew Bible portrays Solomon as wise, wealthy, and powerful. The fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided that she should meet him. The queen came bearing a number of gifts including gold, spices and precious stones, and he in turn shared his wisdom and wealth with her. (This annotation contains an image)
A daquerreotype is an early photograph produced on a silver or a silver-covered copper plate. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 16 - Tom's Mistress and Her Opinions
The word languid is often used to describe Marie, and her mood or actions. The word means without energy or spirit; without interest or enthusiasm and sluggish; inactive. Consider what Stowe is implying about Marie by repeating this word when describing her character.
St. Clare's comment is intended to be
Why did St. Clare laugh?
Vinaigrette, as the word is used here, is a small, ornamental box or bottle with a perforated lid, for holding aromatic vinegar, smelling salts, etc. An example of a vinaigrette is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
St. Clare and Marie represent two different types of slave owners. Briefly describe their two conflicting philosophies about owning slaves.
Why does it seem contradictory that Ophelia would take this stance about slavery?
This line from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice means "It’s easier to lecture twenty people on how to be good than to be the one person out of twenty who actually does good things." Consider what this quote might imply about the concept of a beneficent slave owner.
What is the purpose of the description of Marie and Ophelia's outfits for church?
A pattern seems to be emerging about religion. What theme does Stowe keep revisiting?
St. Clare values _______ over _________.
Chapter 16 Quiz
Chapter 17 - The Freeman's Defence
Au fait is the French term for being fully informed about or an expert on something.
When George says "'I know what they are sold for,'" what is he implying?
This passage is from the book of Psalms, a book of the Hebrew Bible containing poetic expressions that help to reinforce faith. Psalms were often committed to memory and recited in troubling times to help an individual remember their faith. (This annotation contains an image)
What words help create a foreboding mood in this passage?
What event does this scene parallel?
What does George mean when he says he is "'standing on God's free soil'"?
Briefly summarize what has happened here.
What is Stowe arguing about the characteristics of slaver hunters here?
Chapter 17 Quiz
Chapter 18 - Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions
The biblical Joseph (Genesis 37–50) was sold as a slave into Egypt, and then became the Pharaoh's trusted servant. A scene depicting Joseph advising the Pharaoh is below. (This annotation contains an image)
What feelings does Stowe hope to evoke in the reader through this description of Tom?
Meum tumm means mine and thine in Latin. It is a distinction of private property. Adolph is said to be confusing what property is his and what is St. Clare's.
What satisfies Tom in this interaction with his master?
What does Stowe imply through her descriptions of Dinah?
Muses in Greek mythology were the goddesses that sponsored the arts and artists; "domestic Muses" would be the (humorously imagined) goddesses who oversee household arts like cooking. (This annotation contains an image)
Vertu or virtu means artistic objects, such as curios, antiques, etc.
Dinah's comment clarifies Ophelia's symbolic 'cleansing' of Marie's home. What is symbolic of Ophelia bringing order to Marie's household?
Sisyphus and Danaides are both Greek mythological figures; Sisyphus is doomed in Hades to roll a heavy stone uphill, only to have it always roll down again; the Danaides are condemned in Hades to draw water forever with a sieve. These allusions are relevant to anyone who must do an endless, pointless task. Sisyphus is depicted below. (This annotation contains an image)
As you saw above, an allusion is a reference to another literary figure, author or text. Click below to watch a video explaining more. (This annotation contains a video)
What does St. Clare's reaction to Ophelia's claim that the servants are not "honest" say about St. Clare's feelings about slavery?
Prue's character serves to
Here is another instance where Tom's character falls flat. He is entirely static, always offering help and pity regardless of the circumstances. He pities his master's lack of faith and tries to persuade him to stop drinking. He pities Prue because she seems upset and tries to help her carry her bread basket. Consider Stowe's purpose for this unrealistic characterization. Also consider what type of archetype, or character pattern, Tom represents.
Chapter 18 Quiz
Chapter 19 - Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions Continued
Which character is most similar to Eva?
The Fates, in Greek and Roman mythology, were the three goddesses who controlled human destiny and life. (This annotation contains an image)
What view of slavery is St. Clare proclaiming?
What is the purpose of the conversation between Ophelia and St. Clare?
What is St. Clare's argument here?
In your own words, briefly paraphrase St. Clare's argument here.
Why doesn't St. Clare feel an obligation to free his slaves?
Non sequitur, Latin for "it does not follow," is an argument in which a conclusion does not follow from its premises.
"Dies Irae" is Latin for "Day of Wrath." It is synonymous with the idea of judgement day. A painting of a Biblical Day of Judgement is below. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the story of Scipio symbolize?
Eva is called an angel, and here her "golden head" is placed close to Tom's. Consider why Stowe might make Eva seem angelic and unrealistic, just as she does with Tom's character.
Chapter 19 Quiz
Chapter 20 - Topsy
Irony is event characterized by an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result. This video will tell you more. (This annotation contains a video)
Go to this website to learn about the pickaninny stereotype:http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/2-pickaninny/How does Topsy embody this stereotype? Please provide evidence from the novel and connect it to information that you learn on the website.
Ophelia's treatment of Topsy is mirrored by the "civilizing" mission of early colonialists. Many people believed that Africans were more barbaric, or animalistic, than people in the West. Through the lens of religion, people believed it was their duty to make these "barbaric" people more "civilized," or more like people from Western cultures. The cover of a book written on the subject is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the details in this passage imply about Topsy?
What is ironic about Ophelia's threat to whip Topsy?
Topsy is Eva's opposite. Another word for this literary device is
What is the purpose of this dialogue between Ophelia and St. Clare?
The quote, "Law, Miss Feely whip!—wouldn't kill a skeeter, her whippins. Oughter see how old Mas'r made the flesh fly; old Mas'r know'd how!" contains what literary device?
St. Clare is laughing because of
Watch the version of Topsy's mischief below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 20 Quiz
Chapter 21 - Kentuck
What view is Mr. Shelby expressing in the following line? It's a pity, wife, that you have burdened them with a morality above their condition and prospects. I always thought so.
Why is Chloe offering to work harder?
Chapter 21 Quiz
Chapter 22 - "The Grass Withereth—the Flower Fadeth"
How is the beginning of this chapter different than a flash-forward?
The novel's title, Uncle Tom's Cabin, as with many literary titles, is significant to the theme of the story. This is the first time it has been mentioned since the last scene of Tom and his family together. Take a moment to consider the cabin's symbolic nature. Think about what it may mean that it is "shut up."
Tom is singing a
For the first time since Eliza's leap, a religious, or spiritual, supernatural element is in the novel. Eva says she sees "those spirits" and then predicts that she will die. Consider how the supernatural motif is used to elevate the moral nature of certain characters. Also, think about how this is connected to Stowe's purpose.
Eva's suggestion that slaves learn to read the Bible adds to her
Chapter 22 Quiz
Chapter 23 - Henrique
Take a moment to recall what details have already been given about Alfred. What information was provided in St. Clare's arguments with Ophelia? How are St. Clare and Alfred different?
What does Stowe hope to communicate when the narrator explains "one had given him what he wanted far more- a kind word, kindly spoken"?
St. Domingo is the present-day island of Hispaniola; a slave rebellion there resulted in the formation of the country of Haiti. A painting of the event is below. (This annotation contains an image)
"When the boilers burst," as it is used here, is a metaphor describing
Sans culottes is French for "without breeches." It means revolutionaries and is a term of contempt applied by French aristocrats to the poorly equipped members of the French Revolutionary army, who substituted pantaloons for knee-breeches.
Mount Etna, shown in a painting below, is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, in Italy. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 23 Quiz
Chapter 24 - Foreshadowings
What book is being referenced here?
How is Stowe's message of ending slavery more persuasive when delivered through the mouth of Eva? Consider what type of appeal is being used to persuade.
Chapter 24 Quiz
Chapter 25 - The Little Evangelist
Later in this chapter you will be asked about irony. This video explains one of the three kinds of irony: situational irony. (This annotation contains a video)
What is ironic about Ophelia's situation?
Internalized racism is the internalization by people of racist attitudes towards members of their own ethnic group, including themselves. This can include the belief in ethnic stereotypes relating to their own group.
Continue watching the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 25 Quiz
Chapter 26 - Death
"Weep Not For Those" is a poem by Thomas Moore. The beginning reads: "Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb, In life's happy morning, hath hid from our eyes, Ere sin threw a blight o'er the spirit's young bloom, Or earth had profaned what was born for the skies. Death chilled the fair fountain, ere sorrow had stained it; 'Twas frozen in all the pure light of its course, And but sleeps till the sunshine of Heaven has unchained it, To water that Eden where first was its source. Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb, In life's happy morning, hath hid from our eyes, Ere sin threw a blight o'er the spirit's young bloom, Or earth had profaned what was born for the skies."
Here is a picture of the white japonica with glossy leaves. (This annotation contains an image)
Here is an image of the red geranium that Topsy brought Eva. (This annotation contains an image)
Historically, giving a lock of ones hair to someone has been considered a sign of love and devotion, especially before an impending separation. It is still a popular trope in fiction, particularly the romance genre. This gesture also has symbolic significance. Again, as a Christ-like figure, Eva is essentially becoming a lamb of God, to be sheared and sacrificed for the sins of the people.
The tone of Eva's death scene is
How is Eva's hair symbolic? What does she hope this gesture to mean?
Even with Eva's wish that slaves be treated equally, Ophelia
What is Eva dying of?
Bark, as it is used here, literally means a small sailing boat. Figuratively, it means Eva's life. You can learn more about literal and figurative language by watching the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What literary device is expressed in the quote "Those words fell on his heart like clods upon a coffin"?
Chapter 26 Quiz
Chapter 27 - "This Is the Last of Earth"
The highlighted passage contains what literary device?
Topsy's highlighted comments reinforce which of the novel's themes?
Why would Marie want Eva's death to be about "her grief"?
Briefly summarize the highlighted passage.
Tom is a ___________ person.
Chapter 27 Quiz
Chapter 28 - Reunion
Ciphers, in this context, means things of no importance or nonentities.
Describe the difference between St. Clare and Tom's reasoning here.
Who is changed by the death of Eva?
Ophelia's demand to have legal custody over Topsy immediately can be seen as
Notice here, again, that Ophelia is talking of what would happen to St. Clare's slaves in the case of his death. Consider for a moment, who would own the slaves if he died? What would be the "great cruelty" they would face?
This is what a mosquito curtain looks like.
Why is it troubling that St. Clare can "hear" his mother?
Listen to "Dies Irae" in the video below. How does the music add to the tone of the scene? (This annotation contains a video)
What are St. Clare's claims about Christianity here? What reasoning does he offer about why he can not be a Christian?
Here, Stowe is directly confronting her Northern audience and their religious hypocrisy. This is an interesting conversation to have with Ophelia, who embodies much of the hypocrisy that St. Clare is pointing out.
In the highlighted text, the mood of the chapter changes from somber to
The words St. Clare is mumbling are from Mozart's Requiem. Listen to the music below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 28 Quiz
Chapter 29 - The Unprotected
Again, Stowe's portrayal of Tom is reduced to an unrealistic stereotype. At the time of his master's death, he is completely selfless and does not once think of his future. How might this characterization have been related to Stowe's purpose?
Why is it important to note that Rosa is pretty?
A whipping establishment would be a business or a location where slaves were sent to be punished by owners who did not want to do it themselves.
What is Stowe implying about what will happen at the whipping house?
Here, the result of St. Clare's practice of allowing his slaves to speak and act like free men and women under his charge becomes clear. He meant to give them respect, but actually, he trained them out of their actual position in slavery. In fact, it could be argued that it is St. Clare that is at fault for Rosa's whipping. If he hadn't allowed her to speak freely, she would not have treated Marie "with airs." Consider what Stowe is implying about slavery here.
Describe the meaning of the simile in the highlighted passage.
Stowe shifts her focus to the evils of slavery, and you can learn more about this shift in this video: (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 29 Quiz
Chapter 30 - The Slave Warehouse
Tartarus "informis, ingens, cui lumen ademptum" is Latin for Hell, the "misshapen, monstrous, devoid of light." This describes how some may see a slave warehouse.
"Sambo" refers to black men that were considered exaggeratedly happy, lazy, irresponsible, or carefree. The Sambo stereotype gained notoriety through the 1898 children's book The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman, and this depiction of black people was also displayed in films of the early 20th century. In modern English, the term "Sambo" is considered a racial slur. (This annotation contains an image)
This is Tom's first introduction to the kind of slavery where
How does this interjection relate to Stowe's purpose?
Why is Susan afraid for her daughter?
A palmetto is a hat woven of palmetto leaves. (This annotation contains an image)
Describe the meaning of the phrases "airs" and "dressed down," as they are used here. How do these words and phrases, which are often repeated, reinforce Stowe's purpose?
What word foreshadows the way Tom will be treated in the future?
Continue watching the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 30 Quiz
Chapter 31 - The Middle Passage
The Middle Passage, the chapter's title, actually refers to a part of the Atlantic slave trade. During this stage, millions of people from Africa were shipped to the New World. An estimated 15% of the Africans died on the boats at sea due to overcrowding and poor living conditions. (This annotation contains an image)
Tom's new master strips him of his clothes and possessions. What is this act symbolic of?
Simon Legree is a master who rules by
What is Simon's philosophy about slaves?
Notice, again, how Stowe uses casual conversation between minor characters to make a point. Consider when Stowe last used this device. Also, consider how this conversation furthers her purpose.
Chapter 31 Quiz
Chapter 32 - Dark Places
How does the description of the setting create a dark mood for the chapter? Provide specific choices of words and phrases that contribute to the somber mood.
Of the choices below, which phrase does not contain alliteration?
Briefly restate Stowe's claim and reasoning about slaves that oversee plantations.
This is a significant moment in the text, especially considering the title of the novel. Pay close attention to how the description of Tom's new quarters can be contrasted with his expectations and the reality of his previous life. Also, consider what Stowe's purpose is for creating such opposites.
How does Tom earn the favor of the slave women at the plantation?
Who is the last character who dreamt of Eva?
Chapter 32 Quiz
Chapter 33 - Cassy
Briefly describe Legree's feelings about Tom.
This scene seems to illustrate
What do they mean when they say Tom will need "breakin in"?
This marks the first time Tom has ever
Continue watching the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 33 Quiz
Chapter 34 - The Quadroon's Story
Cassy's character, who has a strange power over the overseer, is here, again associated with mystical powers. Her "healing arts," at the time would have been considered witchcraft.
Why did Cassy fall "on the floor, like one crushed and writhing under the extremity of mental anguish"?
Who is speaking in this part of the novel?
Stowe is implying through Cassy's story that ____________ is not possible between a master and a slave.
Cassy has the impulse to be
What is Cassy threatening to do here?
Chapter 34 Quiz
Chapter 35 - The Tokens
What details are provided about Legree through the description of the setting?
What reason does Simon Legree have to be afraid of Cassy?
Most people categorize this novel as sentimentalist literature, but others see elements of the Gothic genre. Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. An atmosphere of mystery and suspense is one common element of the genre. Feelings of fear and the presence of the unknown are common generic elements as well. The character Cassy, and Legree's superstitious manner, clearly show these Gothic elements. Other examples of the Gothic genre include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 36 - Emmeline and Cassy
Why doesn't Stowe have Cassy describe what horrors she's seen?
Legree's nightmares add to the __________ elements of the story.
Describe the types of appeals Cassy makes to try to get Legree to leave Tom alone.
Re-read this passage. Consider why Stowe would tell readers about the death of the protagonist before the event occurs in the novel. How might this relate to Stowe's purpose?
What is Tom implying by speaking of eternity with Legree?
Chapter 36 Quiz
Chapter 37 - Liberty
Who is Tom Loker?
Why is Tom cursing Marks?
Why does Eliza have to cut her hair?
To learn more about disguises, watch this short clip: (This annotation contains a video)
What type of irony is shown when the passengers compliment Harry's beauty?
Chapter 37 Quiz
Chapter 38 - The Victory
A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death to advocate for a belief or cause. In this passage, the concept is discussed, which implies that Tom is a martyr. Name at least one other famous martyr from history and explain what cause he or she stood for.
What does Legree mean when he says "'join my church'"?
Tom is quoting lyrics from the song Amazing Grace. You can hear a version of the song below. (This annotation contains a video)
"Down in the mouth" is an idiom that means filled with melancholy and despondency. "Peart as a cricket" means very happy and carefree.
Legree sees punishing Tom as
Briefly describe the effect that Tom's character has on the other slaves.
What allusion is Stowe making when she says "crown of thorns, the scourge of the bloody seat, the cross of agony"?
Chapter 38 Quiz
Chapter 39 - The Stratagem
A garret is generally synonymous in modern usage with a habitable attic or small (and possibly dismal or cramped) living space at the top of a house. In the days before elevators this was the least prestigious position in a building, and often had sloping ceilings.
What is Cassy's purpose for bringing up the "groans, and people scuffing, and rolling around on the bare floor"?
What is ironic about Legree's remarks?
Why is Cassy calm?
You now know two elements of Cassy's plan. How do you think she plans to escape? Make a prediction based on evidence from the text, and carefully describe your reasoning.
A coup d'état, also known as a coup or an overthrow, is the sudden deposition of a government usually by a small group of the existing state establishment. A coup d'état is considered successful when the overthrowers establish their dominance.
Why does Emmeline want to avoid stealing from Legree?
Continue watching the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 39 Quiz
Chapter 40 - The Martyr
Again, here the narrator tells readers that Tom will die. The narrator has previously given a prophecy of the event. Again, consider Stowe's purpose. Why would making readers sit with Tom's impending doom be an effective strategy? Also, consider Tom's death in terms of the structure of the novel. Is it the climax? Try to form an argument.
Why is this a turning point for Cassy?
This is Legree's only
Luke 23:34, a famous Bible verse, says "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Just as Jesus did on the cross, Tom forgives the people who murder him as they are inflicting terrible violence against him.
Chapter 40 Quiz
Chapter 41 - The Young Master
The characteristics of the genre of sentimentalist and Romantic literature begin to show up in this chapter. A letter about Tom just happens to be delayed. Mr. Shelby's death just happens to delay the search for Tom further. George just happens to come at the exact moment Tom is dying. Clearly, these plot points are not realistic. They are meant to add suspense and sentimental drama to the work.
Select one quote from the highlighted passage and describe how it reflects a major theme of the novel.
A gunpowder magazine is a magazine designed to store the explosive gunpowder in wooden barrels for safety. Gunpowder, until superseded, was a universal explosive used in the military and for civil engineering: both applications required storage magazines. Most magazines were purely functional and tended to be in remote and secure locations. In order to understand Stowe's simile, you must imagine a good deal of explosives going off at once. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 41 Quiz
Chapter 42 - An Authentic Ghost Story
The talk of ghosts adds to what generic elements of the novel?
This quote comes from William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. "In the most high and palmy state of Rome, / A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, / The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead / Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets." The quote is talking about how ghosts were wandering after the assassination of Julius Cesar. The quote is used to expand on the discussion of the ghosts that Legree fears.
What ghosts are actually haunting Legree?
Cassy could have been wearing an outfit like this one with the veil drawn over her face. (This annotation contains an image)
Again, the plot seems unlikely, but entertaining. Cassy is masquerading as a Spanish Creole woman, but decides to entrust her story to George. George then meets someone who asks about the husband of one of his slaves. The connections and the disguises are almost ridiculous, but they are meant to draw readers into the more positive drama of the story as it winds down.
Continue watching the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 42 Quiz
Chapter 43 - Results
Again, Stowe's narrative is more Romantic than it is realistic. Watch this video to learn more: (This annotation contains a video)
Again, Stowe's narrative ends in a literary, as opposed to a historically accurate, fashion. When slaves gained their freedom, many searched and searched for lost family members and most never found them. There were very few records and they faced discrimination even in free states. However, since Stowe's theme draws on the way slavery tears apart families, she wraps up the story with her freed slaves mending and rebuilding their life with their kin.
Cassy's transformation reinforces the theme of
Liberia was established by citizens of the United States as a colony for former African American slaves. It is one of only two sovereign states in the world that were started by citizens of a political power as a colony for former slaves of the same political power. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 43 Quiz
Chapter 44 - The Liberator
Mrs. Shelby feels
The freedom of all the slaves in the Shelby household was a direct result of
Finish the film version of the novel below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 45 - Concluding Remarks
Stowe is now addressing her readers as herself, not as a (thinly disguised) narrator. She is writing rhetorically, to persuade her readers. Try to analyze her argument by identifying a claim, evidence and reasoning.
What evidence does Stowe provide to support her initial claim?
What persuasive device is Stowe using here?
Stowe's arguments change from general to specific. She now addresses her audience directly, asking them to recognize their part in the slave system.
These statements about Liberia seem
How does Stowe use figurative language to further her claim in this passage?
Chapter 45 Quiz