Book Notes Chapter 38 Notes from Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 38

Chapter 38

Chapter 38

Legree orders Tom back to the field long before his wounds heal, and he pushes the slaves to work seven days a week, cruelly trying all the while to break Tom's spirit. Tom is soon so weary and exhausted that he cannot even read his Bible, and he draws it out of his pocket one night and attempts to read it as his meager corn cake is cooking. He finds that either his eyes are failing or the words no longer move him, and he wearily puts the Bible back in his pocket. Legree marches up to him, taunting that he knew that Tom would be broken of religion one day. Legree tells Tom that his religion is nonsense, otherwise he would never have ended up with Legree. Tom replies that the Lord may or not help him, but he'll believe in Him until the end. Legree warns Tom that he will bring him down, and walks away. Tom sits next to the fire, despairing, until he sees a vision. He sees someone wearing a crown of thorns, bleeding; the thorns then change to glowing rays of light. The figure leans in toward him and promises him a seat in Heaven if he overcomes his challenges.

Topic Tracking: Redemption 12

When Tom comes to, he finds himself renewed with hope and exultant after the vision:

"How long Tom lay there, he knew not. When he came to himself, the fire was gone out, his clothes were wet with the chill and drenching dews; but the dread soul-crisis was past, and, in the joy that filled him, he no longer felt hunger, cold, degradation, disappointment, wretchedness. From his deepest soul, he that hour loosed and parted from every hope in the life that now is, and offered his own will an unquestioning sacrifice to the Infinite. Tom looked up to the silent, ever-living stars,--types of the angelic hosts who ever look down on a man; and the solitude of the night rung with the triumphant words of a hymn, which he had sung often in happier days, but never with such feeling as now ... " Chapter 38, pp. 388-389

He is suddenly more peaceful than ever, and his good cheer has fully returned. Legree notices the change in Tom. One night, as he is returning from town, he decides to check on the slaves and make sure they are in order. As he approaches the quarters, he hears Tom's voice, singing a Methodist hymn. He demands that Tom stop, and Tom cheerfully agrees to do so. His cheerfulness angers Legree, who begins to beat him. A few nights later, Cassy pays Tom a visit in the quarters. She tells him that she has put something in Legree's brandy to make him sleep soundly, and she tells Tom she's left the back door of the house open and put an axe near it. She asks Tom to kill Legree, saying she would do it herself if her arms weren't so weak. Tom steadfastly refuses, saying that no good comes out of evil and he'd sooner cut off his own hand. Cassy stubbornly replies that she will do it if he won't, and he begs her not to, saying that people should love their enemies. Cassy bitterly replies that it isn't in flesh and blood to do so. Tom agrees, but says it comes from God.

Topic Tracking: Morality 26

His tears and sincerity move Cassy, and she tells Tom she hasn't prayed since her children were sold. He tells her to turn to Jesus, as he helps the needy and broken-hearted. He then tells her that if she and Emmeline can find away to escape without committing evil, they should do it. She asks him if he would go if they ran away, and he tells her no:

"'No, time was when I would, but the Lord's given me a work among these yer poor souls, and I'll stay with 'em and bear my cross with 'em till the end. It's different with you; it's a snare to me,--it's more 'n you can stand,--and you'd better go if you can.'" Chapter 38, pg. 394

She tells him there is no possible way she can escape without being found out and murdered. He says that she should try, and he'll pray with all his might for her. After a few moments, she has an idea of an escape plan, and she excitedly tells Tom she will try it.

Topic Tracking: Religion 9

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