Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 39: The Stratagem Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Cassy works out an escape plan. Legree’s house has a “garret,” or attic area, consisting of unused rooms and clutter. Once, Legree imprisoned a slave woman there until she died. Her ghost, some claim, still haunts the space. Cassy’s room is under the garret, and she tells Legree that she cannot sleep there anymore because of all the noise coming from the garret late at night. Legree is terrified by this “news.”
Cassy’s plan is quite brilliant. By establishing the garret as a “no-go zone” within the house, for Legree and his men, she creates a hiding-place that will allow Emmeline and her to eventually slip out undetected.
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Beecher Stowe argues that those who do not have faith in God tend to be the most superstitious. Later, after turning over the garret’s haunting in his mind, Legree asks Cassy if she believes in spirits, and she answers, cunningly, that “it doesn’t matter” what she thinks. Cassy continues hinting that the garret is haunted. Cassy has prepared the garret so that, its windows open, it allows wind in and douses the candle-lights in the house. Legree, terrified, refuses to go into the garret, where Cassy has stored a large portion of her and Emmeline’s belongings.
Cassy encourages Legree in his superstitious thinking and directs her cunning toward her escape. Tom has given her a “new lease on life,” and has encouraged her to use her talents to find her freedom. It is important to note, too, that this is the second time Tom has welcomed another’s escape while refusing to free himself (he said the same to Eliza back in Kentucky).
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Cassy takes a trip with Legree to another town near the Red River, memorizing routes she and Emmeline might travel. One night, she and Emmeline make it seem like they have escaped into the swamp. As Legree and his overseers search for them, Cassy teals a roll of Legree’s money and she and Emmeline hide in the garret. Cassy knows that Legree will be too frightened to search for them there, and that any noise they make he will attribute to the “ghost.”
Cassy’s plan is put into action. Because the swamps cannot be traversed, they head into them for a while and then disappear in the garret. Cassy has been able to store provisions there, making eventual escape possible. Money, which is meaningless to slaves, becomes meaningful to the escapees and is therefore symbolic of a transition to free life.
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