An old slave and the protagonist of the novel, Tom's two most prevalent qualities are his inherent goodness and piety. He is a passive Christ-figure who consistently forgives the wrongs committed against him and turns to God in times of crisis. From learing to read the Bible and write letters to his kin, Tom is consistently trying to improve himself despite the limits placed upon him by slavery. Tom also serves as a Christian leader for the other slaves in the novel.
Tom's master in Kentucky. Shelby is characterized as a "kind" slaveowner; he is the stereotypical Southern gentleman. When Shelby experiences a financial crisis because of gambling debts, he sells Tom and the little boy Harry to save his plantation.
Mr. Shelby's wife is a deeply devote woman who strives to be a kind and moral influence upon her slaves. She is appalled when her husband negotiates to sell his slaves with a slave trader, and realizes that slavery is wrong and very unchristian.
The master and mistress' son. At the beginning of the novel he is thriteen years old and teaches Tom to read. He vows to find Tom when he is sold. This he does, but not until many years later when Tom is near death. Inspired by his beloved Tom, young Shelby frees the slaves on his deceased father's plantation.
the coarse slave trader who buys Tom and Harry from Mr. Shelby. Ironically, he considers himself a humane man although he is pursues Eliza and her son with dogs across the frozen Ohio River.
Mrs. Shelby's personal maid, the wife of George and the mother of little Harry. Eliza is a beautiful quadroon, meaning she is three-quarters white, and has a very spiritual and docile nature. She risks everything however, when she discovers that her son has been sold. She runs north and crosses the dangerous Ohio River. Once she reaches Ohio, she is helped by kindly Quakers and eventually reunited with her husband.
Eliza's husband who lives on a neighboring plantation. Desperate for his freedom, George escapes disguised as a Spaniard and finds his family in Ohio. He then takes them to Canada, and eventually to France and Liberia.
George and Eliza's five-year-old son. He is both beautiful and talented, as he sings and dances for the master's pleasure. When he is sold to Mr. Haley, his mother escapes with him to the North.
Uncle Tom's wife is a renowned cook. This plump and cheery woman takes initiative when her husband is sold, and sells her pastries to raise money to buy him back.
Tom Loker and Marks
the slave hunters Mr. Haley hires to track down Eliza.
Sam and Andy
Slaves on the Shelby plantation who are ordered to help Haley look for Eliza. Because of their elaborate schemes to stall the slave trader, Eliza has time to escape.
Augustine St. Clare
Tom's master in New Orleans. He is is a very rich, romantic man who becomes very fond of Tom when he saves his daughter from drowning. St. Clare is an unstable man looking for faith, and Tom tries to aid him. He promises Tom his freedom, but unfortunately is killed in a bar before he can sign the papers.
Marie St. Clare
Augustine's wife, who was once a popular Southern belle. Now, she is a hypochondiac who cares about no one but herself. She disapproves of her husband and daughter's close relations with the slaves and sells Tom and eleven others when her husband dies.
Eva St. Clare
The five-year old "Little Eva" is characterized as a beautiful, angelic child. She and Tom become best friends, and they are bonded by the common love they have for those around them. Eva dies young, and upon her death she both asks the slaves to be good Christians, and has her father promise that he will free them.
St. Clare's northern cousin who comes to help him run the plantation affairs. St. Clare buys Ophelia a slave so she can have a "missionary project" of her own. At first Ophelia dislikes Topsy, but her feelings of racial superiority are eventually broken by the friendship she forms with the needy little girl.
the slave girl whom St. Clare bought for Miss Ophelia to reform. Mistreated all her life, Topsy acts like the jovial, mischievious sprite she is and does not care what white people or slaves think of her. Topsy finally learns about love from Little Eva and moves to the North with Miss Ophelia at the end of the novel.
Tom's evil and tyrranical final master. Legree is a Yankee who has moved to the South to make his money in the plantation business. An alcoholic, he brutalizes his slaves and forces them to live in sqaulid conditions. Because he does not have the respect of other slave-owners, Legree wants his slaves to grovel before him. The fact that Tom finds comfort in the Lord and will patiently bear any load is discomforting to Legree, who begins to hate him viciously.
Legree's mistress and Eliza's mother. She is the only person on the plantation who can stand up to Legree, and she tries to protect Tom from his wrath. Cassy escapes the plantation by her shrewd wits, and later is reunited with her daughter.
Sambo and Quimbo
Legree's oversears, who have been trained to brutalize their fellow slaves. When they beat Tom and he forgives them, they are converted to Christianity.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The book began as a series of stories throughout 1851-52 for the National Era, a Washington abolitionist newspaper. Upon its publication in 1852 by the Boston publishing company Jewett, Uncle Tom's Cabin became so popular that it sold more copies...
The first scene of Uncle Tom's Cabin depicts a conversation between two gentlemen, Mr. Shelby and Mr. Haley. Shelby is loathe to part with Tom, who has been his loyal servant since boyhood, but nevertheless he tries to persuade the trader of Tom's...