Notes on Uncle Tom's Cabin Themes

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Topic Tracking: Religion

Chapter 4

Religion 1: Religion is a major theme of the book and one of Tom's dominant characteristics. Tom not only reads his Bible and leads prayer meetings, he implores everyone around him to follow the teachings of Christ. One of Tom's principal reasons for his piety is his belief that God will redeem earthly mortals who have suffered by giving them glory in the afterlife. We will see this theme reviewed frequently throughout the book.

Chapter 8

Religion 2: The idea of divine intervention is also interjected frequently into the novel; here, it is suggested that Eliza's perilous crossing could not possibly have been successful without God's help.

Chapter 12

Religion 3: Tom uses religion as a tool to comfort the disenfranchised and suffering. Whenever he sees someone suffering, he takes the opportunity to tell them about God, believing that if the sufferer only believes, their suffering becomes easier to bear. Tom is more pious than most characters in the book, and consequently, he takes on their suffering as his own.

Chapter 16

Religion 4: St. Clare brings up the idea of redemption with regard to his saintly daughter, who is presented in the book as an almost inhuman being, an angel sent from the heavens to earth to comfort the afflicted, if only for a short time. Though Eva's gentle and all-loving nature may cause her difficulty on earth, St. Clare explains to Marie, she will be greatly rewarded in the afterlife.

Chapter 22

Religion 5: Here, we see that Eva feels called to Heaven, as if she knows that she belongs there. It is another hint that Eva is imbued with a divine spirit.

Chapter 32

Religion 6: Tom's faith is sorely tested, but his dream of Eva reading the Bible to him--which Stowe depicts as half dream, half vision--stirs him to piety. He finds himself in the role of teacher and missionary, as many of the slaves on Legree's plantation either do not believe in Christ or have never heard of Him.

Chapter 34

Religion 7: The difficulty that mistreated slaves found in subscribing to religious beliefs is demonstrated in Cassy, who has suffered horrors so significant that she cannot fathom that anyone, heavenly or otherwise, could possibly care about her. All Tom can say in response is that she should try to believe in God, as she will find comfort there.

Chapter 37

Religion 8: George, who was initially skeptical of God's existence, had become more faithful after his speech with Mr. Wilson. Here, his faith is rewarded at last. Every religious character in the book has his or her faith rewarded in some way or another; some by reaching heaven, others on earth.

Chapter 38

Religion 9: Tom's piety is not the product of a desire to save himself from eternal damnation; he truly believes that he has been endowed with a mission from God to help the suffering, as his words to Cassy demonstrate.

Chapter 43

Religion 10: Though George, Eliza, Emmeline and Cassy fared better than Tom, what all share in common is a renewed faith in God, even George and Cassy, who were skeptical of God's existence for so long.

Chapter 44

Religion 11: Stowe ends the story with George Shelby's quote, positioning it so that it stands as a reminder to readers that Christianity is its own reward, and pointedly reminding readers of her viewpoint that slavery is an unchristian institution.

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