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Selling more than 300,000 copies the first year it was published, Stowe's powerful abolitionist novel fueled the fire of the human rights debate in 1852. Denouncing the institution of slavery in dramatic terms, the incendiary novel quickly draws the reader into the world of slaves and their masters.
Stowe's characters are powerfully and humanly realized in Uncle Tom, a majestic and heroic slave whose faith and dignity are never corrupted; Eliza and her husband, George, who elude slave catchers and eventually flee a country that condones slavery; Simon Legree, a brutal plantation owner; Little Eva, who suffers emotionally and physically from the suffering of slaves; and fun-loving Topsy, Eva's slave playmate.
Critics, scholars, and students are today revisiting this monumental work with a new objectivity, focusing on Stowe's compelling portrayal of women and the novel's theological underpinnings.




Let's set the scene...

Lorelai and Rory, in fulfillment of their Friday Night Dinner obligation, stumble upon Richard and Emily arguing about his lack of attendance at charity events.


[Emily and Richard come back down the steps. Emily reads from a stack of invitations.]

Emily: The Hartford Zoological Silent Auction, the Mark Twain House Restoration Fund luncheon, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Literacy Auction.
Richard: I can read those myself, you know.
Emily: This is the fourth event you've taken upon yourself to turn down on our behalf. And I am on the board of all of those foundations. Now how do you think that makes me look?


My thoughts:

I've read a lot of slave narratives in my day.  And while something isn't sitting quite right with me these days about slave narratives written by white authors, there was something so genuine and sincere about Uncle Tom's Cabin that infiltrated my thoughts during my non-reading hours.  And that hasn't happened to me in awhile.  I had dreams about slave trades. I was thinking about the various characters and their reaction to their societal norms as I was going about my day. The disgust that lies at the heart of this story was so clearly expressed by Harriet Beecher Stowe and her story was a commentary on the revolting situations she was seeing taking place right in front of her very eyes.


I know that the phrase "Uncle Tom" has become a perjorative for a black person who accepts and celebrates his subservience to a white master.  However, I'm not sure if Uncle Tom is whom I think about when I think of that concept.  I think more of Samuel L. Jackson's character, Stephen, in Tarantino's Django Unchained.  A man who has come to hate his own race and expects his fellow people to accept their condition and to basically continue living the stereotype the white man has saddled him with.  While Stowe's Uncle Tom had a bit of the ole "Magic Negro" air, I'm not sure he falls into either category (and yes, I realize how ridiculous it is that I'm saying he doesn't fall into a category that was specifically named after him).  To me, Uncle Tom was a man who chose to rely on his faith in God, but didn't judge anyone else for choosing a different path.  He died in the name of making sure his fellow slaves could escape.  While he wholeheartedly believe that Christ would bear his brothers and sisters up through most of the hardships they faced, he didn't think that they were obligated to lie down and just accept their fate.  For him, religion and the promise of an afterlife is what utilimately set him free.  But he was supportive of those who thirsted for freedom in this life.  Sorry James Baldwin, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Then again, I'm sure it's more nuanced and layered than that and given the fact that I'm a white woman from Connecticut... I can't begin to understand those nuances.


The Harriet Beecher Stowe house (as with the Mark Twain House.  There is a Mark Twain reference in this same scene, but as I've read a bunch of Twain's work for this challenge so far and there was no specific reference, I consider it a duplicate) is only a 50 minute drive from where I sit this very minute.  And I know it's a travesty that I have not yet been to that or the Mark Twain House.  But I've been hounding Husband about going there some day soon.  Does anyone want to take a 2 year old who talks non-stop about trick-or-treating and pats strangers on the butt for a day?  I'll pay in Doc McStuffin's fruit snacks (unless Lorelai sees them first.  And then you're shit out of luck.)



Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?

Mrs. Kim would appreciate how fully Uncle Tom puts all of his faith in following the path that God has laid for him.  And given her relationship with her mother, I feel like she would have a unique view of the character of Marie St. Clare.

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