Thursday, 19 December 2019
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Many of us know of this story of slavery in the 18th century and dismiss this book as irrelevant today - which I think is a mistake.
The book follows the story of Tom and begins and ends with his cabin. Tom is fortunate in that in Kentucky he has been acquired by a benevolent owner who treats all his slaves well. But they are 'property' and when the owner falls on hard times he needs money.
The story tracks Tom and some of the slaves he comes into contact with during his travels. Some escape and make it as far as Canada, some don't make it to the final chapter.
Throughout the book the author, using research sources open to her at that time, explores the attitudes of different owners and their treatment of their slaves. She also explores the relationship of attitudes (including racism) in the slave free north and the slave owning south. She further goes on to compare the slaves of America to the workers of Great Britain at that time.
While much pain and suffering is inflicted on some of the slaves throughout the book these incidents happen 'off camera' so as not to offend public taste at that time.
This is, in truth, an anti-slavery publication with messages that are still relevant today regarding racism and slavery. I was left wondering about the concept of freedom over the ensuing decades.
****There are many versions of this book available still today and I acquired a free kindle copy from the kindle store which (sadly) had been scanned in and OCR converted which left MANY errors making reading a little challenging at times.