Escape Into Fiction: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

I’ve been doing a series of book reviews on my work blog, entitled “Escape Into Fiction.”  I recently realized, “Why not do that here?”  🙂  From now on, whenever I write  a book review on my work blog, I will post it here as well.  Or maybe just whenever I write a book review I’ll post it here.  I hope the reviews are helpful to you!

Book Summary:

“The little book that started a big war”, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a steadfast, unblinking look into the lives of the slaves of the Ante-Bellum South.

Eliza, hearing that Tom has been sold to cover his master’s debts, decides to run away with her only living son, to join her husband and escape to freedom, Tom is sold down river again and again as property, and Cassy is said to have done the unthinkable…

But through heartache and pain, through despair and fear, they hold on to their hopes, their faith in the Lord, and the whisper of a word: Freedom.

If someone ever asks me what books have touched me the most, Uncle Tom’s Cabin will be at the top of the list, second only to the Bible.

This book is absolutely incredible.  It is harsh, cruel, and terrible.  It is enlightening, captivating, and entrancing.  It is thought-provoking.  It is beautiful.

I honestly can’t think of any other words to describe it.  This book is beautiful and incredible because of the fact that it is harsh, terrible, cruel, and enlightening.  It is not terrible in the way it is written, or in a way that leaves the reader feeling dirty.  It reveals the terrible acts, thoughts, and motives of depraved men.  It is beautiful because it symmetrically weaves the terrible parts with the beautiful parts – exploring the kind, hospitable, gentle, caring acts of men.

One of the things I liked most about Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the fact that it didn’t just hate on the Southerners.  In fact, I can’t truly say that it “hated.”  All it did was reveal what happened.  It didn’t water it down; it didn’t fluff it up.  It just stated it as is, and left the reaction to the reader’s prerogative.  However, back to what I was saying: It didn’t just state the horrible crimes of the South.  It expressed the naivety, and in a way, cruelty of the North as well.  Not only that, though, it described the good in both the North and the South.

This book was extremely well-rounded.  It outlined the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.  It clearly showed the strong Christian faith in several slaves, as well as the hopelessness in others.  It revealed the cruelty of several slave masters; it revealed the gentleness, compassion, and kindness of other slave masters.

The characters are astounding.  Honestly, I have a hard time thinking of several of them as “characters.”  As I read the book, and look back on it, those “characters” are like real people to me.  They were extremely well developed, and whenever I think of them, I feel like they are people whose life stories happened to be recorded on paper.  They are so real I could feel their emotions – their heartbreak at being sold from their loved ones, knowing that they’d never see them again; their fear in the face of their cruel new master; their hopelessness when they are flogged, multiple times, as an example; the unknown when they are sold again; their ecstasy at having a kind new master, and so on.

This book evoked so much emotion from me; I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has touched me so much.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is filled with many levels of heartache, pain, and joy, suffering, relief, and happiness.  On the surface, you see a book about the evils of slavery.  Deeper, however, is a story about individual people whose entire welfare depended solely on their Master’s mood.  It expresses the strong, enduring faith in God throughout horrible times of tribulation – which is the only thing that kept many slaves alive.  It also expresses the kindness of several Southern families – families who treated their slaves just like their own members.  However, the author does make a very solid point: Though the kindness of those slave owners was the only relief a slave could hope for, it was that very kindness that allowed other slave owners to be cruel.  The kindness presented a false pretense that slavery was fine, and the slaves reacted well to it.  Therefore, the slave trade was allowed to continue – and gave the same, cruel, owners utter freedom to do whatever they like with their “property.”

The story is heart-breaking and joyful at the same time.  I believe this is a story every person – who is old enough to understand the concepts – should read; not necessarily because it is enjoyable, but because it is a story that needs to be read – a story that needs to be known.  I don’t just mean watch the film adaptation, or read the abridged version.  No, pick up the original book, and spend a couple of months working through the pages.

I have to say, this was a hard book to read.  There are many sections in the book that are filled with lulls and seemingly unnecessary scenes – or rather, scenes that could be drastically shortened.  It took me two months to read this book, and there were several times that I just “wanted to be done” so I could move onto other books, and work through my extensive reading list.

However, I have never been so happy to push through and finish the story.  It was well worth the read.  It was incredible.

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