Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 30: The Slave Warehouse Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beecher Stowe describes how slave warehouses in New Orleans appear clean from the outside, but inside are jammed tight with slaves waiting to be sold. Tom, Adolph, and others are kept there, and on the women’s side we are introduced to Susan, a “respectably-dressed mulatto woman,” and her daughter Emmeline, a pretty, fair-skinned slave of fifteen. Both have been taught to read and have been trained in religion. Beecher Stowe traces the financial transactions that will cause a New York firm of non-slave-owners to benefit from the sale of Susan and Emmeline.
Another scene of separation is about to take place between Susan, the mother, and her daughter Emmeline, who ends up as Simon Legree’s “kept woman” on the plantation. The slave warehouse is an even crueler and more inhuman version of the slave auctions depicted earlier in the text, and Beecher Stowe takes pains to show that the North is embroiled in this cruelty because of its financial dealings with the South.
Themes
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Susan and Emmeline hope to be sold together. Susan advices Emmeline to look “plain” so that families will buy her for housework. To fend off their sorrow the two of them sing a “funeral hymn” about arrival in heaven, the “goodly land.” The next morning Mr. Skeggs, the manager of the warehouse, tells Emmeline to curl her hair, thus increasing her sale price.
Again it is hinted that a slave woman, this time Emmeline, is to look pretty so that she might be sold into prostitution. This is of course a horrifying prospect for Emmeline and her mother; thus Susan wishes that Emmeline appear homelier than usual, so that she might be employed in a house.
Themes
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Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon
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Tom is put up to auction and is sold to Simon Legree, a cruel plantation owner living by the Red River who does not believe that Tom managed the Shelby’s farm in Kentucky. Emmeline is also sold to Legree. Susan, her mother, is sold to another, more refined gentleman. Beecher Stowe remarks that the New York firm profiting from the sale of Susan and Emmeline ought to be reminded of what they have done.
Legree is introduced. He is Tom’s final owner, the cruelest owner in the novel, and its true villain. He does not wish to own slaves so much as to destroy them, and in Tom he meets his match—a slave devoted only to goodness, who cannot be corrupted by the presence of evil. Their showdown forms the core of the remainder of the novel.
Themes
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Home Theme Icon