Summary of Chapter 3
While Eliza had kind masters and was "indulged" as Mrs. Shelby's pet favorite, her husband was not so lucky. His master worked him very hard, beat him, drown his dog out of sheer spite, and ordered him to marry a girl on his own plantation, Mina, so that George can no longer visit Eliza. George can take no more injustice and decides to escape to Canada: "I'm a man as much as he iswhat right has he to make a dray-horse of me?" he asks.
George tells Eliza that although her masters have been kind to her, that Harry will have a worse fate because he is male. Eliza, remembering the slave trader who came to visit Mr. Shelby, worries for her son's future as well as her husband's safety. The couple part in tears, and Eliza reminds George to "be good" so that they may see one another in heaven.
Analysis of Chapter 3
This above quote is important, as it manifests that slavery is both dehumanizing and robs one of their natural rights to self-determination. Here, Stowe is questioning the entire institution of slavery. By relating George's story of success in a factory stifled by his spiteful master, Stowe tries to awaken the reader's sense of indignation that a slave enjoyed virtually no rights over his own individual personage.
The sorrow that the couple feels in parting is also significant, as it counter's Haley's earlier justification for dividing slave families on the basis of slaves not having strong family ties like white people. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, many people in Stowe's day had to be taught that slaves were human beings with human emotion. In order to convince her readers that slavery is a moral wrong that strips people of their rights, Stowe embellishes the theme of slavery with those of feminism and religion. Women, as revealed by both Eliza and Mrs. Shelby, are more pious than male characters in the novel. This is an attempt to appeal to the moral conscience of female readers, inspiring them to question their husbands as Mrs. Shelby did. So too, the theme of the break up of the family should strike a chord with female readers as it shows how slavery destroys a mother's inherent bond to her child and invades the sacred relations between a wife and her husband.