Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 38: The Victory Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beecher Stowe argues that it is more difficult, and the sign of a true martyr, to cling tenaciously to life, day after day, than to give over to a glorious death. Tom is put back to work even though he is still gravely injured. Tom finds it increasingly hard to read the Bible in his minimal spare time.
Though Tom is willing to work in the fields, despite his injuries, he finds it very difficult not to be able to read at night. The Bible is his lifeline to God’s word. It enables him to carry on in the face of immense hardship.
Themes
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Legree comes to him one night and asks if Tom’s religion does him any good now. Tom claims that he will “hold on” to his faith even if no one comes to his aid. Legree’s speech, his “atheistic taunts,” have wounded but not destroyed his confidence, and he rises later to sing robustly a hymn of praise to God. This buoys his confidence and allows him to bear the horrors of the plantation.
This is perhaps Tom’s lowest moment in the novel. But even when he feels he might have been physically defeated by Legree, he does not abandon his faith. The hymn he sings rouses his spirits and enables him to continue at his work.
Themes
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Legree discusses Tom’s more cheerful mood with Sambo, who suggests that Tom might wish to run away. Legree tells him to prepare for such a plan. Legree hears Tom singing a hymn again that night and whips him, but Beecher Stowe says this can only damage “the outer man,” and not Tom’s soul. Even while being beaten, Tom experiences love for his fellow slaves and thinks of their plight.
An explicit link to Jesus Christ. Tom thinks only of others even as his body is beaten and bloodied. This behavior seems almost impossible to believe—such goodness is seldom seen on earth, which of course makes Tom’s sacrifice all the more dear (and all the more Christ-like).
Themes
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
Cassy comes to Tom later and tells him that she has drugged Legree via his brandy—they can murder Legree with an axe and escape to freedom, perhaps even freeing the other slaves. Tom responds that such an act would be evil: he cannot fight wickedness with wickedness. Instead, they must “love their enemies.” Tom says that if Emmeline and Cassy can escape without harming Legree, they ought to try, but Tom will not go with them—he is going to “work among the poor souls” of the plantation until he must go to heaven. Cassy, bolstered by her conversation with Tom, decides to try to escape.
Another important turning point in the text. Tom very easily could have killed Legree in his sleep and escaped to Kentucky and saved Legree's slaves from his cruelty. But murder is wrong; it says so in the Bible. Tom will not go against the Bible’s teachings, even if they might help to further his position on earth or lessen his suffering or even help others. Tom will not do evil even to stop evil. He is purely good. He will stay on the plantation to serve as a martyr for others.
Themes
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
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