Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin Summary and Analysis of Chapters 11-15

Summary of Chapter 11

Eliza's husband, George Harris, is the focus of this chapter. Disguised as a Spaniard, he stops at a tavern where he meets his old boss at the factory, Mr. Wilson. Wilson is fooled until George reveals himself to him. Mr. Wilson becomes very nervous upon discovering that George has fled and quotes the Bible to urge him to return to his master. Wilson then tells him that he runs to great a risk of getting caught, but George replies that he is armed with pistols and a knife, and that he is determined to "fight for liberty with (his) last breath."

Analysis of Chapter 11

George Harris is quite a different slave than Uncle Tom, for example. He is neither a martyr nor is he even pious. He is discouraged at the lot life has handed him, especially because he cannot live up to his enormous potential and keep his wife and child safe. Thus, the character of George is effective because it both puts a more human face on Stowe's representation of slaves, in contrast to the angelic Tom and Eliza, and George is also an example of a slave with his own agency who is willing to fight to keep it.

Although Eliza may reprimand her husband to try to feel more like a Christian, it is obvious that Stowe writes of George with only the highest regard. She uses positive, heroic adjectives to describe George's rebellious thoughts and headstrong attitude. Indeed, he fights, but it is for liberty. The fact that George is willing to die for his freedom is Stowe's way of emphasizing her point that no slave, whether docile like Tom or rebellious like George, would ask to be reborn in his or her position.

Summary of Chapter 12

Haley is taking Uncle Tom to New Orleans, and on the way he purchases three more slaves. With his four human cargoes chained together, Haley boards a boat for Louisiana. When the boat makes a stop, Haley buys more slaves- a woman named Lucy and her ten-month old baby boy. A stranger on the ship strikes a bargain with Haley and buys the child. When Tom observes this "unutterably horrible and cruel transaction," Stowe says, "his very soul bled." The mother, in despair, throws herself into the river that night.

Analysis of Chapter 12

The main purpose of this chapter is to present the reader with the various horrors of slavery, and Stowe pays particular attention to the plight of the mother whose child is ripped from her. The episode in which Haley takes a baby from its mother, and then she jumps in despair into the river, is a direct parallel to Eliza's situation. In this case, Stowe is presenting us with the grimmer outcome of the story of the desperate mother. Thus, she is reminding the reader that although Eliza escaped across the river, many more slaves were not so fortunate.

Summary of Chapter 13

Eliza and Harry are now living in a Quaker settlement at the home of an old couple, Rachel and Simeon Halliday. Harry is able to enjoy himself playing, and Eliza shows more resolve and confidence in her ability to fight for her son. When the Hallidays invite friends over, Eliza learns that her husband may have arrived at the very same Quaker settlement. The rumor proves true, and George, Eliza and Harry are reunited. For the first time, George feels like he has found a home in togetherness with his family.

Analysis of Chapter 13

Uncle Tom's Cabin is not only a novel protesting slavery, but also it portrays a series of religious conversions. George Harris, for example, finds himself feeling more content and peaceful when he is reunited with his family. Thus, he is finally able to fulfill his wife's wishes that he turns to God and become a faithful, and less discontented, man. It is important to note that family and religion are linked in the novel. It is because George is reunited with his family- both receiving their love and support and providing for them- that he is able to concentrate upon the goodness of his soul. The didactic message that Stowe is trying to send is that good Christians cannot support any institution that threatens family unity. If whites preach the Christianity to slaves they should allow them to fulfill their Christian duties within a unified family, as they themselves do.

Summary of Chapter 14

The scene now shifts back to the ship upon which Haley and Uncle Tom are traveling. Even the vile Haley is convinced of Tom's inherent goodness, for he lets Tom sleep without his chains. Tom spends his time on the ship among the cotton bales rereading his favorite Bible passages for comfort.

Aboard the ship are a rich gentleman from New Orleans, Augustine St. Clare, and his five-year-old daughter Evangeline. "Little Eva" is a beautiful child who always dresses in white. Her actions are equally angelic as her appearance, as she secretly brings Tom and the slaves candy, oranges, and other snacks. Tom carves trinkets for this little girl, who truly seems divine to him.

Eva falls overboard one day when the boat makes an abrupt stop, and Tom jumps in after her and saves her life. In gratitude, and with Eva's urging, Augustine St. Clare purchases Tom. Tom is very happy to have such a kind new master, and Eva is equally glad to have the chance to "make him (Uncle Tom) happy."

Analysis of Chapter 14

Stowe uses the sale and transportation of Tom to his new plantation as a means of decrying slavery as a widespread plague infesting the South. It is not coincidental that Tom reads his Bible on the deck of the boat, and then glances up to view the contrasting images of fields of laboring slaves and squalid huts alongside imposing plantation mansions. The tears that Tom sheds upon his Bible serve as Stowe's symbolic plea for Christians to recognize the inherent wrong of slavery.

This argument is further emphasized when Stowe spends considerable time describing the unique style in which Tom read the Bible. The fact that he takes his time and reads the verses syllable by syllable symbolizes that religion is all that Tom has left; essentially, Tom and his faith are one, for both his acts and his thoughts are motivated by pious love.

Summary of Chapter 15

This chapter opens with the history of the St. Clare family. Augustine St. Clare is the son of a wealthy planter in Louisiana. When his heart was broken after a ruse swayed him from marrying a northern woman whom he loved, he married a popular Southern belle, Marie. The selfish, complaining Marie soon became afflicted with "fanciful diseases." In other words, Eva's mother is a hypochondriac. Eva takes care of her mother with Mr. St. Clare's cousin, Miss Ophelia. Miss Ophelia is from the north and decides to restore order to the chaotic plantation with her "missionary zeal."

When St. Clare and Eva arrive at their plantation with Tom, they make him the head coachman. Tom and Eva become close friends. She creates wreaths of roses for her friend's neck, for example. The "spectacle" of seeing her daughter's close contact with a slave makes Eva's mother fall "ill" again. Soon, Tom becomes Eva's special servant; his first priority is attending to her needs.

Analysis of Chapter 15

Stowe's stylistic purpose in this chapter is to paint a portrait of the guardian angel of novel's souls, Little Eva. Stowe greatly emphasizes the child's inherent goodness, much like Tom's. The contrasting physiques of the little white girl and the large black man serve a symbolic purpose- Stowe wants to show the reader that friendship and human compassion is blind to race, sex, or age. Tom and Eva are bound by their love of one another and of mankind.

This chapter also serves the purpose of raising the reader's hopes in the middle of the novel. Perhaps, indeed, Tom would find happiness with the kind St. Clare family. One is wont to ask, how strong an argument for abolition could Stowe be making by portraying Tom as content under the care of his new angelic friend and her doting father?