Friday, July 20, 2012

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Essential American Literature

This is my second time reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, and I certainly enjoyed it the first time.  However, this time I hope to read it in more depth and with a better understanding.  I truly believe that this should be required reading in high school.  Here are my summaries:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe (Signet Classics) 

Chapter IIn Which the Reader is Introduced to a Man of Humanity
Mr. Shelby, a kind and generous man of Kentucky, decides he must part with Tom, his most trusted slave, to cover his debt, but Mr. Haley, a trader, cannot accept only Tom; he suggests Mr. Shelby throw in a child, preferably Harry. Mr. Shelby says it is not humane to separate Harry from his mother, Eliza, and Shelby won’t part with Eliza either. But Shelby gives Haley his word that he will speak with his wife about the possible arrangement.

Chapter II – The Mother
While Eliza was raised up by and became the favorite of her mistress, Mrs. Shelby, her husband, George Harris, had been hired out by his master to work for a manufacturer where he thrived; and it was during this time at the manufacturing business that he met and married Eliza. Aside from the loss of two children in infancy, they had a third child together, Harry, and this was a happy time for Eliza; however, when George’s master learned of George's success and contentment at the manufacturing business, he took him back home.

Chapter III – The Husband and Father 
Eliza is alone after her mistress leaves when George unexpectedly surprises her to tell her that he is making a plan to leave his cruel master, who beats him and now wants him to marry another woman, and heading to Canada. If he makes it alive, he will be back for Eliza and Harry. George questions who gave his master the right to own him when he is just as "man," even a more capable man, than his master.

Chapter IV – An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin 
First, the reader gets a look inside the small log dwelling of Uncle Tom and his wife, Chloe, and its happenings: thirteen-year old George Shelby is visiting with them while they converse about Aunt Chloe’s superb cooking. Next, there is a gathering of the slaves for hymns, Scripture, and prayer, led by Uncle Tom.  Finally, the chapter ends with Mr. Shelby and Mr. Haley meeting to exchange bills of sale, and Shelby reminds Haley that he promises only to sell Tom into the right hands.

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