Book Review: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe #UncleTomsCabin #BookReview #Classics

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Blurb:

Nearly every young author dreams of writing a book that will literally change the world. A few have succeeded, and Harriet Beecher Stowe is such a marvel. Although the American anti-slavery movement had existed at least as long as the nation itself, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized public opinion as nothing had before. The book sold 10,000 copies in its first week and 300,000 in its first year. Its vivid dramatization of slavery’s cruelties so aroused readers that it is said Abraham Lincoln told Stowe her work had been a catalyst for the Civil War.

Today the novel is often labeled condescending, but its characters—Tom, Topsy, Little Eva, Eliza, and the evil Simon Legree—still have the power to move our hearts. Though “Uncle Tom” has become a synonym for a fawning black yes-man, Stowe’s Tom is actually American literature’s first black hero, a man who suffers for refusing to obey his white oppressors. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a living, relevant story, passionate in its vivid depiction of the cruelest forms of injustice and inhumanity—and the courage it takes to fight against them.

My Thoughts:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin highlights the disgusting, evil, and immoral times of slavery in American history. This sentimental novel is fictional, but shares truth in what life was like for slaves and how they were treated during these dark times. It’s been said that this book helped lay the groundwork for the American Civil War. 

This was a recommended read for my daughter’s American History curriculum but not a required one. I’ve always wanted to read it, and now I can say it’s one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read—both in the way it’s written and also the content. The sentence structure and word use made it hard to follow at times. Not only that, the story flips around between characters which I didn’t particularly care for. We found a narrator (Buck Schirner) that does an excellent job with the different voices which really pulls you into the novel, making the dialect easier to read.

The story follows Tom, a devout Christian slave whose owner (Mr. Shelby) has fallen into financial difficulties, having no choice but to sell Tom and other valuable slaves. Living with the Shelbys, Tom’s had many luxuries including a decent wardrobe, books, and a wife and children. He’s been treated decently and appreciates everything he has. He mourns having to leave them, and the family mourns the loss of him and the others as well. As time goes on and Tom is transferred from place to place, he meets new people, some kind and some callous.

This book isn’t just Tom’s story; there are other characters including some of the slaves who were living with Tom at the Shelby plantation who have now gone separate ways. Their stories sort of revolve around Toms. I felt for the characters and found myself on the edge of my seat at times—especially with Eliza on her journey with her young son, Harry.

There are other themes aside from slavery here including religion, righteousness, social roles of women, family, and freedom. The Christian theme is very strong which wasn’t expected. I was completely unaware that the author would connect Christianity with views on slavery. 

As to how the book made me feel: it made me sick at times. The discussions between slave owners with their talk of ‘property’ and their complete disregard for humanity is hard to digest. Blacks weren’t expected to have feelings; in fact, they were expected to be tolerant throughout, come what may. These belief systems are insane. Perhaps what hit me the hardest was the nightmare of families being torn apart—for the mothers and children especially. As a mother myself, I can’t even fathom how some of the men and women during this time could stand back, so reserved, and truly believe that a person’s skin color made them less than human—not able to learn, love, or have any feelings or rights for that matter—and then to watch these women’s children ripped away from them. The constant degradation of Blacks and the racial slurs were upsetting. For a melancholic person such as myself, I can say with certainty that this book stressed me out and made me angry. With that said, I was also uplifted and inspired by Tom’s unwavering strength and faith. It’s very thought-provoking how divided people were then, much the same as we are today. This book most definitely encourages discussion.

I’ll likely never want to read this book again, but I feel this is such an important read, and I’ll even go so far as to say that it should be required reading for upper grades regardless of the religious ideology.

4****


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Publisher : Independently published (January 8, 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 273 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1679604007
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1679604003

Thanks for reading my review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Have you read this book? Feel free to leave your comments below.

❤️ Mischenko

26 thoughts on “Book Review: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe #UncleTomsCabin #BookReview #Classics

  1. I’ve never read the book and I’m not sure I could get through it. I struggle to mute my empathy as it is, and reading this would likely rip me apart. At the same time, it’s important people not forget the darkest time in American history. Maybe if it WERE required reading, we would could do away with prejudice once and for all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally understand, Mae. Recently I had to DNF a Holocaust story because it was just too much. I’m not sure why, but I’m not as resilient as I used to be with content such as this.

      It’s so true what you say: we must never forget. It’s hard to tell people what to read, but a teacher led discussion of the book amongst high school readers doesn’t seem like it would be an issue, especially with the some of the other stuff they’re reading. I’ve read that it’s been removed from curriculums, but maybe some states still use it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting about it being removed from curriculum. I had no idea
        And OMG, yeah, I’d NEVER get through a book on the Holocaust. I fully understand why you had to DNF that.

        Like

  2. Michael Mclellan

    Great review, Jenn. Books like this one are important heirlooms.
    This James Baldwin quote says a lot:
    “The past is what makes the present coherent, and the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Susan Libanio

    I have not read this book, but I certainly was aware of it when I read Gone With the Wind in my teens. I did order it from my local library, but after leafing through it, I knew Uncle Tom’s Cabin would be a heartbreaking read for me because I was definitely aware of the still prevalent problems with racism in the US.
    Human trafficking/slavery has been a massive issue with the human race since the beginning of recorded time, it seems. Genocide and religious wars are still being waged. Obviously, history has taught us humans nothing because our greed and our ignorance still perpetuates and supports modern day forms of slavery and mistreatment to this very day.
    I boycott all books involving bike gangs and organized crime. I also tend to avoid novels involving any form of monarchy – although Jane Austen is my literary hero! Fanaticism of any sort seems to breed abuse in one form or another.
    This was a great post, Mischenko! I don’t think my heart could survive reading this one, especially not during lockdown. I can barely tolerate listening to the news these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Susan. I totally agree with you. Slavery is disgusting, and it’s unbelievable how many practices there were in human history where people would simply turn a blind eye. Personally, I want my kids to know every single one of them, and also to pay attention to what’s happening today.

      Would you believe I haven’t read anything by Jane Austen? Hoping to this year. My friend Noriko has inspired me. If you have a recommendation, please share. ❤️

      Like

  4. Heartfelt, amazing review, Jenn! I have this book on my TBR but feel a bit intimated by the theme. Your review convinced me what important a read this is… I will read someday (but not at the moment 🤣)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephanie Haddad Wallace

    The author was very brave to write such content at that time. So sad, this very difficult period in our history. And also so sad that, in many instances, we’re still dealing with many of the same issues in the present day.
    Great share Jen! I haven’t read this book and not sure that I could, but thank goodness for the people that can face atrocities and make a difference in the world.

    Like

  6. Pingback: June Wrap-up 2021: #BookReviews #Books #Music – ReadRantRock&Roll

  7. I have not read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but I do have a copy. In Dresden, Ontario there is an Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site. It is where Josiah Henson purchased land for a settlement where escaped slaves could live and be self sufficient. It is this man that the book is loosely based on. I should read the book, then visit the Historic Site. Thanks for this wonderful review Jenn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so cool! I didn’t know there was a historic site there. You’ll have to let me know if you end up visiting there.

      The book was difficult for me at times—both in the way it was written and also the content. I don’t think I’ll read it again, although I still have three younger kids who haven’t read it yet.

      Thanks, Carla.

      Liked by 1 person

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