Sarah's Reviews > Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
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Oct 08, 11

bookshelves: classics
Read in October, 2011

I admit I was supposed to read Uncle Tom's Cabin in my 11th grade History class...and though I am sure I did read little bits and pieces, I can hardly remember it. So, when I saw it was a free selection for Kindle, I downloaded it and started reading it. Of course I had lots of precoceived notions about the book before I started it. I've alalways heard the term "Uncle Tom" used to describe a black person who has "turned on" his race in some way. And I had heard, and understood, that the book itself was written in a fairly racist manner. So I expected to hate Uncle Tom, and to be generally offended by the text from beginning to end. I have to say, there were huge portions of the story, mostly the narrative descriptions of the slaves, that were absurdly racist. She constantly describes the slaves as being "child-like", and there is always the assumption that a black character can only be "good" if they have a white person to train them to be that way. Then we have the stereotypes....which I won't even get into.
But back to Tom. While I can see how someone could look at him and think he was a man that was more loyal to his master than his race, I saw him completely differently. I saw him a a Christ-like figure, a man similar in character to Ghandi. He was a man of faith who prayed for the salvation of others. While critics see his master as being the white man, I saw his master as being God. For this, I found his character to be admirable.
As I'm writing this I am still asking myself if I "liked" the book....and it's very hard for me to answer that. I thoguht the writing was not worthy of its status as a "classic". I thought huge parts of it were racist. But there was so much of the story that resonated with me. I was pulled into the lives of the characters. Also, I think that this book has huge historical significance, regardless of how it has been denounced as being racist today. It spurned discussion when it was written, and it continues to do so today.
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