Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 29: The Unprotected Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beecher Stowe begins by saying that slaves whose kind master has died are left “unprotected” by any laws, left to the designs of those who wish to buy them. St. Clare’s slaves, upon hearing of his death, are panicked with the exception of Tom, who prepares St. Clare for his funeral and thinks only of his devotion to his master, and of God’s love.
Because St. Clare has not drafted a will, his slaves will be sold at auction according to Marie’s desires. This is another instance of Tom’s (and St. Clare’s) poor luck, and another example of the way that slavery puts the slave's at the extreme mercy of others. It does not matter what has been promised to them; under the law, they have no rights.
Themes
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About two weeks after the funeral, the slave Rosa asks Miss Ophelia to speak on her behalf, since Marie found Rosa trying on one of her dresses and has commanded she be thrashed. Miss Ophelia asks Marie to think of Rosa’s “delicacy” and “good looks,” but Marie is hard-hearted and will not budge, and Rosa is beaten.
If possible, Marie has somehow gotten crueler in the aftermath of her husband’s and Eva’s deaths. She thinks only of beating and berating her slaves—she will do nothing to help them.
Themes
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Tom relates to Miss Ophelia the promise St. Clare made him, to grant him freedom on his death. Miss Ophelia again promises to speak to Marie, who, lazing in her room, says that Tom is too necessary a servant and will not be given his liberty. Despite Ophelia’s efforts, declaring that this was St. Clare’s desire, Marie refuses to give him freedom, and is unmoved by the idea that, when Tom is sold, he might end up with a bad owner. Marie complains that no one in the house ever takes her side or understands her view of the slaves.
Marie does not believe that such a thing as a “bad owner” can exist, despite all evidence to the contrary (and she herself, of course, is a terrible and unfeeling mistress). Tom is sold here not to pay off a family debt, as in the Shelbys’ case, but simply owing to the whim of his mistress, who knows she can fetch a great deal for so steadfast and honest a worker as Tom.
Themes
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon