Shelby, Jr. returns home. Although Mrs. Shelby fears that something has happened to Tom, Aunt Chloe still plans for his safe return and lays out the money she has earned on the table. Shelby, Jr. enters and tells all that Uncle Tom has died, and Mrs. Shelby and Chloe mourn his passing. Within a month, Shelby, Jr. grants all the slaves on the plantation their freedom, but they claim they wish to remain on the estate and work. Shelby, Jr. announces he will pay them and they will be free to leave as they wish.
George is a “liberator,” but his offer to have the slaves remain on the estate—though well-intentioned—smacks of the sharecropping system which will come to define black-white relations in the South for many years after the Civil War. That George allows them freedom of movement means, at least in theory, that all are free.
Shelby, Jr. gives a small speech telling all of them to remember Uncle Tom and to “think of their freedom,” and of Uncle Tom’s Christian example, when they pass by his cabin.
This is the formal establishment of Uncle Tom’s cabin as a symbol for Tom’s Christian goodness, and for family and home.