Friday, July 19, 2013

Uncle Tom's Cabin - A Few Thoughts

I just finished reading this classic American novel byHarriet Beecher Stowe, and though I have no intention of trying to do a full review of it I would like to mention a few thoughts about it.

First of all, what words describe this book? Sad, sickening, astounding are a few that came to mind. Amazing, interesting, heart- breaking, heart-warming - those are a few more.

It's a book of slavery, race, faith, family, departures and arrivals, loss, love, belief. It tries to show differences in how a Southern character and his Northern cousin perceive slavery and slaves and ho living in a new locale provides her with a different view.

I did think that there were too many "happy coincidences" at the end of the story, but that's a small nit to pick. The story was very readable, though some of the scenes tough to read, with so much sadness and bigotry often dominating. It is easy to see how and why this book stirred up so much controversy when it came out, with how the author describes some of the slaveholders, salve traders and slave catchers, not to mention her gripping word pictures of the shaves themselves, particularly Tom and his family. 

I am glad I finally re-read this story. It took me longer to finish than I wish it had, but it was worth the effort. It is no new scholarly account of the war or the coming of the war, but I think it still is a valuable telling of various parts of mid nineteenth century life in the United States, particularly in the border and deep southern states. 

Religion and faith, family and friendship, buying and selling, departure and reunion, freedom and slavery - all themes found throughout Stowe's influential and still interesting work. If any readers of this entry have not read it, or have not done so recently, I certainly suggest you consider doing so. It is a fascinating perspective on the United States of so many years ago.

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