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Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe


A STEP BEYOND

TESTS AND ANSWERS

TEST 1

_____ 1. Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a

    A. powerful politician
    B. beloved poet
    C. famous preacher
_____ 2. Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in response to the
    A. Missouri Compromise
    B. Fugitive Slave Law
    C. Civil War
_____ 3. Stowe appealed to her readers on the basis of their
    I. emotions
    II. religion
    III. membership in antislavery organizations
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 4. Eliza escapes from slavery by crossing the ice on the
    A. Mississippi River
    B. Red River
    C. Ohio River
_____ 5. Haley sells Tom to
    A. Augustine St. Clare
    B. Simon Legree
    C. George Shelby
_____ 6. The St. Clare servants decide that Ophelia
    A. treats them better than their master does
    B. doesn't know her way around a kitchen
    C. is no lady
_____ 7. Augustine St. Clare believes that slavery is
    A. a curse
    B. a necessary evil
    C. sanctioned by the Bible
_____ 8. Simon Legree comes from
    A. Louisiana
    B. New England
    C. France
_____ 9. Cassy and Emmeline escape by
    A. getting Legree drunk
    B. hiding in the swamp
    C. disguising themselves as ghosts
_____ 10. At the end of the novel, George Harris decides to go
    A. to New York
    B. to Africa
    C. back to Kentucky

11. When Uncle Tom's Cabin was published, Southerners denounced it as an unfair attack on their region. Do you agree?

12. Uncle Tom's Cabin has been criticized for creating stereotypes of blacks. Do you agree?

13. Who is the hero of Uncle Tom's Cabin? Defend your choice.

14. What is Stowe's view of women in Uncle Tom's Cabin?

15. What is Stowe's view of men in Uncle Tom's Cabin?

TEST 2

_____ 1. Harriet Beecher Stowe was born into a family of

    A. writers and artists
    B. ministers and reformers
    C. politicians and soldiers
_____ 2. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin to make people realize that
    A. slavery was evil
    B. slavery should be abolished immediately
    C. the Civil War was coming
_____ 3. To Stowe, the worst things about slavery were that
    I. it separated mothers and children
    II. it destroyed soils
    III. it was inefficient
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 4. Stowe sympathized with slaves for all the following reasons except
    A. she had lost a child
    B. she had met many former slaves
    C. she thought that blacks and whites were equal
_____ 5. After little Eva's death, Uncle Tom promises to stay with Augustine St. Clare until
    A. Chloe earns the money to buy his freedom
    B. St. Clare becomes a Christian
    C. George Shelby comes to get him
_____ 6. Simon Legree kills Tom because Tom
    A. will not tell him where Cassy and Emmeline are
    B. tries to run away
    C. refuses to whip Lucy
_____ 7. On Tom's grave, George Shelby swears to
    A. take revenge on Legree
    B. fight against slavery
    C. make it up to Aunt Chloe
_____ 8. Stowe urged her readers to
    A. pray
    B. become abolitionists
    C. vote for Abraham Lincoln
_____ 9. Comic relief in the novel is provided by
    A. Marks and Loker
    B. Susan and Emmeline
    C. Sam and Andy
_____ 10. Cassy is the mother of
    A. George Shelby
    B. Eliza Harris
    C. Topsy

11. Is Uncle Tom's Cabin a realistic novel? Explain.

12. What is the definition of a good Christian in Uncle Tom's Cabin? Who personifies this definition?

13. Some readers call Uncle Tom's Cabin a feminist novel. Do you agree? Why or why not?

14. Some readers say that the ending of Uncle Tom's Cabin is a failure. Tell why you agree or disagree.

15. The term "Uncle Tom" has come to mean a black (or anyone in a reform movement) who is too subservient. Is this an accurate use of the character of Uncle Tom? Give evidence for your views.

ANSWERS

TEST 1
  1. C
  2. B
  3. A
  4. C
  5. A
  6. C
  7. A
  8. B
  9. C
  10. B

11. If you agree, look for descriptions of the South and Southerners in the novel. You'll find plenty of negative ones. Marie St. Clare, for example, the typical Southern belle, is spoiled and self-centered. Alfred St. Clare, Augustine's brother, works his slaves extremely hard. His son, Henrique, abuses his slave, Dodo, and Stowe says that having power has made him hot-headed. Worst of all is Simon Legree, who works his slaves to death, and tries to destroy their souls as well as their bodies. Southerners would argue that such masters were extremely rare. Stowe tells you repeatedly that slavery tears families apart. However, that didn't happen very often, Southerners would say, and good people would try to see that it didn't happen, just as good people would avoid selling their slaves to traders like Haley.

If you disagree with this statement, point out that Stowe includes numerous examples of the positive aspects of slavery. Slaves on the Shelby plantation are well treated, and the ones in the St. Clare household are positively coddled. If you think Stowe is fair in her treatment of the South, you would say that her point is not that masters are always- or even often- cruel, but that the master's character is the only protection a slave has. Show that Stowe deliberately implicates Northerners in the evils of slavery- by showing that they profit from the sale of slaves (the New York firm) and that they don't like black people and don't treat them well (Ophelia). Augustine St. Clare points out that his father and his father's brother had exactly the same character, although one lived in Louisiana and the other in Vermont. Finally, Simon Legree, the evil slaveowner, comes from New England.

12. If you agree with this statement, you would argue that many of the sympathetic characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin- especially George, Eliza, little Harry, and Cassy- are so light-skinned that they can pass for white. The dark-skinned characters- Uncle Tom, Aunt Chloe, Sam and Andy, Dinah, Mammy and Topsy at the St. Clare mansion, and most of the slaves at the Legree plantation- are portrayed differently. They speak in dialect and their actions are generally comical. Aunt Chloe's pride in her baking is a little silly, as is Dinah's disorganized kitchen. Sam and Andy resemble characters from a minstrel show.

If you feel that Stowe does not create racial stereotypes, you would claim that the light-skinned characters serve an important function in the plot: because they can pass for white, they can escape slavery. In addition, they arouse the sympathy of white readers. You would also say that only the minor characters- Sam and Andy or Dinah, for example- are truly racial stereotypes. Stowe has enormous respect for Uncle Tom, and her portrayals of Mammy, Topsy, Cassy, and Prue are extremely sympathetic.

13. There is no right answer to this question, so you will have to decide from among a number of possibilities. Is Tom the hero? Certainly he is the central character. His sufferings and death are Christ- like. Stowe has great respect for his strength and gentleness. However, some readers think George Harris is the real hero of the book. If you do, you would point to his intelligence and courage in fighting his pursuers and escaping from slavery. You might also cite his speech to Mr. Wilson about what the promises of American life mean to a black. At the novel's end, Stowe implies that George will accomplish great things. You could also argue that Augustine St. Clare is the novel's hero. For many readers, he is its most attractive figure. Unlike some of the other characters, he acts morally without being too good to be true. His beliefs about slavery closely resemble Harriet Beecher Stowe's. Finally, you could claim that George Shelby is the hero of the novel. A good and active young man, George satisfies readers by knocking Legree down and swearing on Tom's grave that he will do what he can to end slavery. Stowe seems to view men like George as the hope for the future of the South.

14. There are more women characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin than in most novels. Most are good mothers, and their love for their children has taught them to love humanity. Motherhood seems to be the central focus for women in this novel. Either they focus on their children or, if they are slaves whose children have been sold, on the loss of their children. The only bad mother in the novel is Marie St. Clare. The values Stowe seems to admire most are those that are traditionally associated with women: love, sensitivity, and gentleness. She also admires efficient housekeeping and considers it an indication of character, as in the case of Mrs. Bird or Ophelia.

In Uncle Tom's Cabin, women help each other. For example, Mrs. Shelby, Mrs. Bird, and Rachel Halliday help Eliza, and Cassy helps Emmeline. But women characters are constrained by not being able to fight directly for what they want. Mrs. Shelby and Mrs. Bird must convince their husbands- or influence their sons- they cannot take action themselves. Thus, Stowe portrays women as being good and powerful in their influence on their families.

15. You could demonstrate that Harriet Beecher Stowe didn't think much of men. All the truly evil characters in the novel are men: Legree, Haley, and the slave-catchers. Even the decent men seem morally inferior to their wives- Shelby and Bird, for example. The best men in the novel, Uncle Tom and Augustine St. Clare, are explicitly described as womanly. Young George Shelby is close to his mother, and George Harris says that he is under the influence of his wife's gentle and religious nature. Stowe seems to find men admirable only insofar as they submit to the power of women.

TEST 2

  1. B
  2. A
  3. A
  4. C
  5. B
  6. A
  7. B
  8. A
  9. C
  10. B

11. To argue that Uncle Tom's Cabin is a realistic novel, include incidents, details, and language that seem lifelike. For example, you could point to Stowe's physical descriptions. The depiction of the ice, as Eliza makes her way across the river, seems quite accurate. In addition, Stowe's portrayal of children, with the exception of little Eva, seems realistic. The author's use of dialect, especially the way the slaves, the slave-catchers, and the Quakers speak, is convincing. Finally, you would argue that current historians generally agree with Stowe's assessment of slavery.

To argue that Uncle Tom's Cabin is not realistic, you would point to the general lack of physical description. You would also focus on melodramatic incidents, such as the deaths of Eva and Augustine St. Clare. Finally, you would mention Stowe's contrived subplots and the way characters are reunited with their long-lost relatives at the novel's end.

12. To answer this question, consider the words and deeds of Eva and Uncle Tom. They read the Bible, believe in the presence of God in daily life, and most important, love and forgive the people around them. Little Eva and Tom are the most ardent Christians in the novel, but there are others as well. Include Stowe's other descriptions of Christian behavior. For example, she thinks it was Christian of Mr. Symmes to help Eliza up the bank on the Ohio side of the river. To Stowe, helping others, or as Tom puts it, taking care of God's "critturs," is another dimension of Christianity. Christians also oppose slavery. Stowe has harsh words for ministers who claim that slavery is sanctioned by the Bible, or that it is a necessary part of the Southern social structure.

13. If you think Uncle Tom's Cabin is a feminist novel, you could point to the many women characters in it, and emphasize Stowe's high regard for the traditional feminine virtues of gentleness, sensitivity, and maternal love. She thinks women have tremendous influence over men. Many characters credit their mothers with teaching them values- from Augustine St. Clare to Simon Legree. Other characters, such as George Harris, praise the influence of their wives. Stowe seems to think more of men who resemble women; she specifically states that Uncle Tom and Augustine St. Clare are womanly.

If you disagree with this statement, you could show that the women in Uncle Tom's Cabin have little real power. The only woman who really has power over a man is Cassy, and that's only because Legree thinks she's possessed by the devil. You could even argue that Eliza gains her freedom only after she disguises herself as a man.

14. If you believe that the ending of Uncle Tom's Cabin is a failure, you could say that Stowe's solution to the problem of slavery- praying and acting so that you feel right- is not in keeping with the emotional outpouring of her attack on slavery. After such a display of evil and such an appeal to the readers' emotions, one expects more than advice to pray. In addition, you could present George Harris' plans to settle in Africa as giving up on the possibility of racial justice in the United States. You might agree with some readers who say that the limitations of Stowe's religious perspective prevented her from considering other solutions to the problem of slavery.

If you don't think the ending is a failure, you could claim that Stowe's goal in writing Uncle Tom's Cabin was to arouse emotion- which she unquestionably did- rather than to provide solutions. You could conclude that, as history has shown us, none of the other approaches worked. Losing the Civil War was the only thing that "persuaded" Southerners to give up their slaves.

15. If you agree that Uncle Tom is an "Uncle Tom" in twentieth-century terms- a black too subservient to whites- you could point to testimony to that effect from black readers of the novel, whether they be abolitionists of Stowe's time or novelists of today. You could show that Uncle Tom is passive in the face of adversity. He does not escape from either the Shelby plantation or the Legree plantation when he has the chance. He does not understand that his interests differ from those of his masters. Uncle Tom is always currying favor with his masters' children, from George Shelby to little Eva. Finally, Uncle Tom never expresses anger at the injustices done to him by whites; instead, he forgives them.

If you don't believe that Uncle Tom is an "Uncle Tom," you would say that Tom was acting not on behalf of his masters' interests, but on behalf of the interests of the other slaves. Most important, you would argue that Uncle Tom's values were Stowe's values. From her point of view, dying nobly was better than killing an unjust master or escaping from him. You could say that Uncle Tom is a different kind of hero. His heroism is religious and passive, rather than political and active.

[Uncle Tom's Cabin Contents]


TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING

  • THE NOVEL
    1. Is Uncle Tom's Cabin a feminist novel?
    2. How accurate is Uncle Tom's Cabin in its portrayal of slavery?
    3. Compare Uncle Tom's Cabin to another mid-nineteenth-century novel in terms of style, form, and structure.
    4. Discuss the structure of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    5. Does Uncle Tom's Cabin show the effect of its original serial publication? How?
    6. Discuss the comic relief in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • THEME TOPICS
    1. The evil of slavery.
    2. Motherhood in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    3. The meaning of Christianity, according to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • THE CHARACTERS
    1. Discuss the topic of good mothers and bad mothers in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    2. Comment on the roles of children in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    3. Discuss housekeeping as a guide to character in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    4. Compare the slaves at the St. Clare mansion with those at the Shelby and Legree plantations. What is the effect of different kinds of masters?
    5. Comment on Uncle Tom as a Christ figure.
    6. Comment on the descriptions of Uncle Tom and Augustine St. Clare as womanly.
  • POLITICS
    1. Colonization vs. abolition as solutions to the problem of slavery (in history and in the novel). Discuss.
    2. Does Stowe condescend to her black characters? Explain.
    3. Does Stowe use racial stereotypes? Discuss.
    4. Explain the effect of the Fugitive Slave Law on the North.
    5. Discuss Harriet Beecher Stowe and the antislavery movement.
    6. Discuss the topic of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Civil War.
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    1. Describe some contemporary reactions to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
    2. Uncle Tom's Cabin- the play as different from the novel. Discuss.
    3. Read another novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe- The Minister's Wooing is probably the best- and compare its style and themes with those of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

[Uncle Tom's Cabin Contents]


GLOSSARY

ABOLITIONIST
Person, in the years between 1830 and 1863, who favored the immediate end of black slavery in the American South, without compensation to slaveowners.

AQUILINE
Curved, like an eagle's beak.

ATHEISTIC
Godless.

BOMBAZIN
Fine twilled fabric of silk and worsted or cotton, often dyed black and used in mourning clothes.

CALABOOSE
Jail.

CANAILLE
The rabble, from a French word meaning a pack of dogs.

CUDJOE
Typical slave name.

DAGUERREOTYPE
Early variety of photograph, using a silver plate or a silver-coated copper plate. Named for L. J. M. Daguerre (1789-1851), who invented the process.

DIES IRAE
Day of wrath, from a famous Latin hymn on the day of judgment, sung at the mass for the dead.

DRAYHORSE
Horse and, by extension, a person used to pull heavy loads. A dray is a strong, low wagon.

EBULLITION
Sudden outpouring.

EJACULATION
Exclamation or a brief pious utterance or prayer.

EVANGELIST
Preacher of the gospel; one who brings the message of Christ's coming.

HEMP
Plant whose fiber is used for making cloth or rope.

HIRE OUT
Place a slave in an enterprise not belonging to the owner in exchange for wages (kept by the owner).

JIM CROW
Black person. The term, now considered offensive, was popularized by a song and dance called "Jim Crow," written by the black minstrel Thomas D. Rice in 1832. The song's refrain is "wheel about and turn about and jump Jim Crow."

LAUDANUM
Opium.

MOROCCO
Soft, fine leather.

MULATTO
Person of mixed black and white ancestry.

MURRAY'S GRAMMAR
Most authoritative grammar book of Stowe's day, written by Lindley Murray and first published in 1795.

OVERSEER
Day-to-day supervisor of slaves on a plantation. On small plantations, the owner did this job; on larger ones, the overseer was an employee.

PUSEYITE
Edward Pusey (1800-1882) was an Oxford professor who defended religious orthodoxy; thus, a Puseyite would be a religious conservative.

QUADROON
Person of one-quarter black ancestry.

QUASHY
Typical slave name. Used like "John Doe" to mean an average man.

SANS CULOTTE
During the French Revolution, this term referred to militant republicans. Literally, it means "without breeches."

TOUZLING
Disheveled.

TRUMPERY
Something deceptively showy, vain.

TRUNDLE BED
Low bed on casters that can be rolled under another bed when not in use.

VINAIGRETTE
Small decorative bottle with a perforated top; usually used for smelling salts.

VERANDAH
Porch or balcony extending along the outside of a building, usually roofed and often enclosed.

WORMWOOD
Woody herb producing a bitter oil, therefore, anything bitter or grievous.

REFERENCE
THE STORY, continued


ECC [Uncle Tom's Cabin Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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