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Uncle Tom's Cabin Notes on Setting, Objects & Places

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Objects/Places

Tom's Bible: Tom's well-worn and heavily marked Bible is his most treasured possession. He keeps it with him constantly, even after he is sold to Legree, who objects strongly to Tom's piety. Though he is a slow reader, having learned late, he patiently reads his favorite verses and marks them with pencil. He also loves to have it read to him, as two of his favorite people, George Shelby and later Eva, often do. The Bible is the most visible symbol of the deep religious faith that is Tom's most prominent characteristic. Ultimately, he clings to his religion even in the face of his slow, agonizing and unjust death.

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Though it is the book's title, Uncle Tom's Cabin, where Tom lives with his wife Chloe and their two children, actually does not appear often in the book. It is, however, an extremely important locale, as it represents the kind of life Tom had before he was sold. His residence in the cabin is comfortable, and though his master owns it, the cabin is Tom's domain. His existence is nearly ideal for a slave, and it seems extremely stable. The fact that he is forced to leave his cabin, and all that it means for him, illustrates Stowe's point that no slaves, even well-treated ones, are safe as long as humans can be bought and sold to anyone who can afford it.

Eva's Curl: Just before Eva dies, she cuts off a sample of her long, beautiful curls and gives them to each of the slaves on her father's property. Everyone, particularly Topsy and Eva, treasures the curls, as they are a visible reminder of Eva's uncommonly kind and generous nature. Topsy treasures the curl because Eva was the first and only person to tell her that she loved her. Tom treasures the curl because of his deep and intimate friendship with Eva, who often read him his Bible and discussed religion and slavery with him. Just before he is sold to Legree, Tom hides Eva's curl in a sheet of paper and carries it with him at all times. When Tom is beaten, the brutal overseer and slave Sambo confiscates it and shows it to Legree, who finds the sight of it revolting and horrifying. For Legree, the curl represents his dead mother, who implored him on her deathbed to change his cruel ways. Legree ignored her and left home, and while he was at sea he received a letter, containing a message that his mother had forgiven him before she died. The letter also contained a lock of her hair. For Legree, the memory of his dead mother serves as his conscience, which he tries to avoid thinking about at all costs.

George's Dollar: George gives Tom a dollar just before he is taken away by the slave trader Haley. George attaches the dollar to a string and ties it around Tom's neck, telling him not to forget him. The dollar is taken from Tom, along with Eva's curl, when Sambo beats him.

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