Slavery And Christianity Incompatibility In The Book Uncle Tom's Cabin

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The novel “Uncle Toms Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe she writes one of the most inspiring novels of all-time. This novel exposes the cultural misconceptions of early America. This novel was written to fight against slavery at its peak in the 1850’s. Through this novel we receive a first hand view of what life was truly like in the slave states. The essays main idea is about slavery, but if you dive in deeper you can argue that it may also be about religion. Religion was a huge part of the livelihood of Stowe because it was prominent in her family. The novel proves the dysfunction of slavery and religion. This idea of the two seems simple for anyone to recognize. Slave owners were still Christians like there slaves, yet they still bathed in their sin. Harriet Beecher Stowe writes this beautiful novel that is firmly against slavery, but she struggles to mention how to fix the tension that has been built up. In this essay, it discusses how Harriet Beecher Stowe is not able to fix the tensions of slavery and Christianity, but rather just simply point the incompatibility out in her novel.

The overall outcome of this novel has always been positive for the readers. The novel itself is wonderfully written. It dives in deep to huge cultural problems that are never easy to discuss in any context, plus in the time period Stowe completed this novel. In the article “Articulating Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Jim Loughlin it explains “Uncle Tom's Cabins 'a wonderful 'leaping' fish' that suddenly appeared and was able to 'fly anywhere' through different media” (573). This is an outstanding way to describe this novel because of the diverse meanings throughout the text. The levels of journey that Tom accounts all have wonderfully put meanings and ideas. O’Loughlin also discusses that “the complex and sometimes contradictory series of reactions, restaging’s, and parodies hold the key to the significance of the popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Its popularity quickly would have waned with shifts in the political and cultural landscape” (573). The novel’s success over the years has been on a wild rollercoaster because of the shifts in the political arena. The views of America have shifted drastically since the time this book was written. The idea of the drastic change in point of view, may be true, but society is still faced with the same issues today as we were during the slavery era. That raises the question, why are we still playing in the same old dirt as we were in close to 200 years ago. America in general has experienced many hardships, but the one that seems to stick out more than others is how to stop racism. This is the age long question that we still try to find answers to this day. Harriet Beecher Stowe definitely offers up answers to this question in her novel. The obvious answer throughout the novel can be pointed to Christianity, or religion in general.

Stowe’s novel delivers a strong depiction of slavery that also gives a view of religious beliefs in this time period. The novel consists of a story that is full of heartbreak and anguish. Tom the main character of the novel experience hardships that may seem unforgivable to many. The story starts off with Tom living in Kentucky as a slave with a family. His family live comfortable for the most part, with a decent slave owner. This all changed very fast when the owner Mr. Shelby had to sell Tom always to pay debts he had amounted. This was the beginning of a long painful journey for Tom. Tom when he was sent off was bought by St. Clare, who was convinced by his daughter almost drowning to purchase him. Tom grew a great friendship with Eva where they were able to share their Christian beliefs. This was found to be weird in this time period because blacks were seen as lesser people. Eva later on gets ill and dies from an illness. She wanted her father (St. Clare) to free the slaves when he died. He was later murder and wasn’t able to free Tom of slavery. The lone widowed wife and mother now decided to sell Tom to Legree. Legree turned out to be an awful slave owner who would brutally beat his slaves. He eventually beats Tom to death. Throughout the long journey of Tom, he somehow remained faithful to his religion.

Firstly, Tom is the definition of a strong patient human being. His patience is a strong virtue that he learns from his religious beliefs. Tom is blessed with a family that he loves dearly. Stowe’s idea of Tom’s family seems to be a very comfortable situation for them to live in as slaves. In the article “Necessary Perspectives on Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Jocelyn Chadwick it explains that “Stowe’s novel emphasizes a gentle, innocent, child-like nature of slaves, their ready embracing of Christianity, their need for the guidance and care of their benevolent masters. Tom and his wife, Chloe, accept their enslavement and therefore also accept their own dehumanization and minimization” (pg. 18). The fact that many slaves needed to survive they enlisted the help of the owners. They didn’t know any better or who to trust. They were sent to this new country with no representation except for there little knowledge they have acquired. This idea of being content in the issues involving race and religion seems to be fine with the slaves. This couldn’t be said for all slaves because many would try there best to escape through the underground railroad. This was a definitely a way to rebel against slavery as a whole. Religion has a major role in the novel as we can see that Stowe makes it a point to mention them throughout her novel.

Additionally, the novel portrays some of the slave owners as decent people and not the stereotypical one. This can’t be said for all of the slave owners as the intentions of slave owners can be documented as inhumane to many. In the novel it seemed that some slaves seemed fortunate to have a home and food offered to them. It must have been a positive for them instead of being homeless and hungry. For obvious reasons, the slaves had every right to feel the pain. In the article “Repairing the Ladder to Heaven: Harriet Beecher Stowe's The Minister's Wooing as a Secular Novel” by Wilkes explains that “In the Minister’s Wooing, Stowe wrestles with Puritan theology, especially doctrines about salvation and damnation. She depicts characters modifying their ideas about God based on their experiences” (437). The slaves have experienced the worse things possible that no human should ever have to endure. Slaves have the right to change their views about God because of the way they have been treated. This is just a common human response to the horrific period of time they were stuck in. Stowe doesn’t have any those concepts in her novel. Tom seems to greatly appreciate God and Christianity in general. Tom truly shows the decision to respect God’s wish to be patient and believe in His word. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with his strong beliefs.

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Secondly, the novel Stowe has created includes a strong religious aspect about it. Religion seems to be a distraction to the slaves. It gave many slaves hope in these harsh times they were experiencing. It only makes since that Tom was a huge believer and devoted his life to serving God. The author Curtis Evans explains “Although Stowe draws upon Paul’s dictum (I Cor. 1:26–29) that God chooses the lowly of the world to accomplish his purposes (especially in her use of Eva, a little white child, and Uncle Tom, a lowly black slave), she never resolves the tension between grace and race in her novel” (500). Stowe, in her knowledge of the Bible, believes that the slaves are the lowly group of people that will work out Gods purpose the way He intended. This may well in fact be a commonality in this time period because of there dedication to Christianity. This offers the view point that slaves are fulfilling their religious belief and practice from their ethnicity. Evans now offers up an Important question “If race or biology is the reason for different responses to the divine, what point is there in urging people to change when they are, in fact, according to this reasoning, acting out of their racial impulses or instincts?” (500) If this is the case then slavery wouldn’t be seen as a bad thing to certain religious groups who support it. This idea of racial impulse corresponding with religion is definitely the basis of think that its correct to own people. Stowe in the novel point of view can be mistakenly identified for the wrong idea. This may lead to even more tension between religions and their opposing views.

To Continue, the theme of the entire story seems to be loosely fitted around racism, and more around religion. The identification of this seems to be obvious since Stowe had a strong background in religion in general. The subject of religion seems to be prominent throughout the whole novel, which Stowe argues people of faith should have some idea of feeling the inhumane torture they are afflicting on African Americans. The character Lucy jumps off the pages and screams, interesting character to the reader. Lucy enters the novel in the latter half of it, which she is faced with the barbaric slave owner Legree. Lucy is filled with depression from the harsh living conditions of being a slave. Her desire to push on and stay strong in this horrific environment is fading at a fast pace. In the article by Hochman it explains “Stowe’s representation of Lucy complicates two common themes of the period: optimism about God’s design and fortitude in the face of necessity” (144). This is important to note because this seems to be her main argument that represents her entire story. The world they lived in seemed to be a fluke because that couldn’t possibly be what God had in store for blacks. The religious aspect of Stowe’s life is strong and I believe she did a great job incorporating it into her novel.

Thirdly, the racism in this novel is different from todays racism. The slaves were all degraded and put in lower classes because they were of color. The racism throughout the novel was nothing surprising that you would see in this time period. Having slaves was a normality that was experienced for many growing up. Its not that people thought it was right, they just didn’t know any better. This was very apparent in the novel with Tom. In the article “Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the National Era” by Barbara Hochman explains that “Stowe may have felt that the story of slavery was “told too often” to bear repeating, but she was still impelled to publish her own version of the tale” (144). This truly explains the way that Stowe goes about writing this Novel. The norm of the material being introduced to public were definitely point out factors that could stop slavery. They also like to make the slave owners has the awful people, which Stowe took a different route. Hochman also mentions that “Stowe wanted her readers to see slavery with new eyes” (144). The same material that was being released throughout each year was not making any progress on the forefronts of slavery. The new eyes focused on slavery could be classified as a different view on why slavery is seen as a negative connotation. This only gets fresh new perspectives on slavery; which Stowe was striving for.

Additionally, the idea of new racism is difficult to conceptualize, but is still relevant. We see that over the years with the necessary change that has been occurring to fix this country has evolved the term racism. Racism in general is an awful and unnecessary in this country and should have never been a problem that we encountered. In the article “Old-Fashioned Racism and New Forms of Racial Prejudice” by Virtanen explains that “One factor that emerges consistently from the various definitions of symbolic or new racism is the emphasis on whites' belief that blacks are unwilling to help themselves and are, therefore, undeserving of government assistance” (312). The idea of every changing new ways to find a way to hate a group of people seems to be getting very old in this time period. The term is never going to stop evolving with the times until we just love each other. Slaves were put in a situation of working in fields with the blistering sun all day long. They were pushed to the threshold of exhaustion everyday repeatedly. The times of slavery relates to racism now, as Virtanen points to the new stereotypical racism that “The central focus in the new racism on stereotypes that portray African Americans as unwilling to work hard has received considerable empirical support in recent studies of whites' racial policy preferences” (312). Racism has truly evolved because people love to point out what is wrong with a group of people, other than what’s right. People in general, have a tendency to aim for the weaknesses of certain ethnic groups. This is always part of political arguments, which always gets out of hand for everyone. The fact is we should love all no matter the ethnicity or beliefs. In 1 Peter, Peter explains that “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (New King James Version 1 Peter 4:8). The love that God has given the world always seems to be thrown on the back burner. Society throughout time has taken love for granted for so long. The abundance of sins in this treacherous world is overwhelming. The thought that everyone can be forgiven in this world is the reason to keep believing in this world.

As a result, the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is a novel of hope. The meaning of this word is a strong component of human civilization. People grasp on to hope with every last effort. In the article “Hope” by Neville Callam explains “To hope is confidently to affirm, in the conviction that ultimately good will triumph over evil, that the sphere of hope which will be realized extends beyond the present age. Hope is stronger than death” (139). This quote truly shows that hope prevails in any human being with any circumstances. The hope certainly is contributed from any slaves’ religious beliefs. Slaves had to endure a long terrible road, but never seemed to lose their faith in God. He provided the love necessary for the slaves to perceiver through many of the hardships that no human being should ever go through. God is the hope that slaves needed to receive throughout the novel. In Psalms 147 it explains that “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (New King James Version Psalm 147:11). This verse speaks loudly to the virtue of hope. Hope seems to be very strong tool that God is able to utilize. Faith also seems to go hand in hand with hope. Both terms have a fearful aspect of them. They both force people to trust in something they can’t necessarily see themselves. This one last Bible verse truly sums the entirety of this essay in the view point of Tom. In 1 Corinthians it discloses that “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (New King James Version 1 Corinthians 13:13). This verse speaks loudly to the problem of racism. Love is the ultimate for of peace on this diverse world. As a society of racial issues, people must start loving each other instead of hatred.

The focus of this novel is to calmly point out the disastrous relationship between Christianity and slavery. Stowe proves through her novel that the two are not capable of co-existing in the same world. It just makes zero sense to have both so prominent in a community. The idea of love is profound throughout the bible and that cannot be found in slavery. This is just scratching the surface of how it contradicts each other. Christianity seem to hold Tom together through most of the story even the hardships he had to face. The new age of racism has only been altered to affect todays society. The fact that racism is still around to today is a horrifying thought. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written about 170 years ago and may have contributed to many changes through political and cultural landscapes. Racism is still surviving through all of this time, but less and less each year. As Christians we must try our best to have love for everyone no matter the apparel we wear or the way we are perceived. The judgmental days must pass, so has a country people can truly enjoy each other with out being scared of how they or others act. This novel is a great way to show the secular side of the slave trade in the 1850’s and how it has change today. The defining moment for society should be the time we have found love for all our brothers and sister in Christ.

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Slavery And Christianity Incompatibility In The Book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (2021, September 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
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