Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Uncle Tom Character Analysis

The book’s title character, hero, and moral center, Uncle Tom is the head slave of the Shelby estate, sold to pay off Mr. Shelby’s debt. Uncle Tom’s new master, St. Clare, is a benevolent one, and Tom befriends St. Clare’s daughter, Eva. After St. Clare dies, Tom’s religious spirit is tested at the hands of Simon Legree, his final master, and Tom’s willingness to die for his Christian beliefs makes him a martyr and Christ figure.

Uncle Tom Quotes in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Uncle Tom's Cabin quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Tom or refer to Uncle Tom. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Bantam Books edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin published in 1981.
Chapter 14: Evangeline Quotes

And you shall have good times . . . . Papa is very good to everybody, only he always will laugh at them.

Related Characters: Eva St. Clare (speaker), Uncle Tom, Augustine St. Clare
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

Evangeline (Eva) and Augustine are two of the more interesting characters in the novel. Augustine has married a woman who does not love him, and who is cruel and harsh to their slaves. Eva is the apple of Augustine's eye - he will do anything to please her, and she is an extremely well-behaved and kind child. She is, in this sense, her father's daughter, and not her mother's.

Eva notes to Tom that Augustine is a man who wishes to treat his slaves well, who believes that they are his equals, but who also believes in social conventions to the extent that he will not free his slaves right away. Indeed, Augustine's moral evolution over the course of the middle of the novel is one of the book's most important dramatic arcs. For, though in the beginning he maintains his position in the slave system, by the end of the book he no longer believes this to be the ethical or Christian thing to do.

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Chapter 24: Foreshadowings Quotes

It’s jest no use tryin’ to keep Miss Eva here . . . She’s got the Lord’s mark in her forehead.

Related Characters: Uncle Tom (speaker), Eva St. Clare
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

Tom and Eva grow very close as Tom continues to live in the St. Claire house. Indeed, Tom and Eva are linked as sacrificial, Christ-like figures in the narrative. Each seems almost "too good for this earth" - each is an embodiment of Christian ideals of selflessness and love of one's fellow person greater than one's self-love. Thus the reader tends to believe Tom when he recognizes in Eva this form of saintliness.

Of course, Eva's goodness, along with Tom's, really is "too good" to be true - there perhaps never has been a person as selfless as Tom or Eva. They are not meant to be characters in the novel so much as walking, breathing symbols, embodiments of Jesus's teachings. Against their example, the immoral schemings of slave-holders might better stand out. This, then, is Beecher Stowe's logic in presenting these characters are morally perfect - they underscore just how imperfect and vile the slave system in America is. 

Chapter 33: Cassy Quotes

Mas’r, if you mean to kill me, kill me; but, as to my raising my hand agin any one here, I never shall,—I’ll die first!”

Related Characters: Uncle Tom (speaker), Simon Legree
Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 406
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the most important scenes in the novel. This is a moment in which Tom most fully demonstrates his commitment to Christian teachings. It is also the moment when he is most Christ-like - refusing to protect himself in order to protect another person. Tom does not have a violent bone in his body, and it is inconceivable for him to harm another person in order to save his own skin. He cannot do it.

This moment is so affecting because here Tom's commitment to the health and wellbeing of another person is believable - it is an enormous moral burden for him to bear, but it does seem at least plausible that someone in his situation might respond in this way. One need not be a saint to do this - one need only be a committed, emotionally strong, and generous human being. Thus Tom (and Stowe) achieves maximum pathos, or fellow-feeling, in this section. 

Chapter 40: The Martyr Quotes

O, Mas’r! don’t bring this great sin on your soul. It will hurt you more than ‘twill me! Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but, if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end!

Related Characters: Uncle Tom (speaker), Simon Legree
Page Number: 469
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene further demonstrates Tom's goodness. Even as he is being beaten to death for refusing to tell anything about Emmeline and Cassy, Tom refuses to consider his own plight. Instead, he argues that Legree's beating of Tom will only result in further damnation for Legree. If Legree wishes to protect himself in the afterlife, he will stop what he's doing and repent - even if Tom dies. 

That Tom might find any satisfaction at all in the idea that Legree's eternal soul is protected might be hard to believe, especially after the cruelty that Legree has visited upon Tom. But this belief in fellow-feeling even for those who have wronged us is central to Tom's identity. It is the thing that sets him apart from other slaves, and indeed from all the other characters in the novel, with the exception of Eva. It is the thing that makes Tom an example (if an unrealistic one) for all people to follow. 

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Uncle Tom Character Timeline in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Tom appears in Uncle Tom's Cabin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: A Man of Humanity
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...a rough and coarse slave-trader. Shelby offers to sell his most reliable slave, called Uncle Tom, whom he describes as uncommonly religious, honest, and dependable. Haley voices his belief that slaves... (full context)
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...respectfully, since they fetch a higher price when they’re content. Others, such as his friend Tom Loker, are crueler to slaves, and their business suffers. Haley nevertheless insists he might buy... (full context)
Chapter 4: An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
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Uncle Tom’s cabin is simple, its front covered in beautiful flowers, with an interior organized around a... (full context)
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Two of Uncle Tom’s and Aunt Chole’s children play happily with a third, who is learning to walk. Near... (full context)
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...the vivid imaginations of black people. George reads from the Book of Revelation, and Uncle Tom leads the group in a closing prayer. (full context)
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...the main house, Mr. Shelby and Haley the trader are finalizing the sale of Uncle Tom and Harry. Shelby appears displeased after signing them over, and asks Haley to keep his... (full context)
Chapter 5: Showing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners
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...no longer hide the truth, Shelby reveals that business conditions have forced him to sell Tom and Harry to Haley. (full context)
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...is taken, but Mrs. Shelby says she will not, and that instead she will visit Tom before he leaves. (full context)
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Uncle Tom, on hearing the news, understands that Eliza must flee, but he says he must stay,... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Mother’s Struggle
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...ill of Haley and other slave-traders, arguing that they participate in an evil enterprise, Uncle Tom enters and quotes the New Testament: “Pray for them that spitefully use you.” He instructs... (full context)
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Tom reports to the parlor and tells Shelby and Haley he will report to be sold... (full context)
Chapter 8: Eliza’s Escape
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...Eliza flees, Haley finds a tavern and mulls his fate. He runs into his acquaintance Tom Loker, a massive and violent-looking man, and his small, mouse-like companion, Marks. Over drinks, Haley... (full context)
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...tactics that morning, since he feels they are sly and ungentlemanly. Sam heads to Uncle Tom’s cabin and tells Aunt Chloe and the slaves assembled of Eliza’s crossing; he gives a... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Property is Carried Off
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Tom is to be handed off. His wife acknowledges that, as a Christian, she should put... (full context)
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As Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe eat breakfast together, Aunt Chloe can’t contain her weeping. Uncle Tom is... (full context)
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Haley shackles Tom, arguing that he has already lost 500 dollars at the Shelby estate. Tom gives his... (full context)
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Haley stops with Tom at a blacksmith’s shop to tighten his shackles. The smith claims that Tom is faithful... (full context)
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George promises Tom he will be good and bring Tom back. When Haley returns outside to the carriage,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Select Incident of Lawful Trade
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Tom and Haley ride to the riverboat. Haley thinks of how he might market Tom on... (full context)
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On La Belle Riviere, a riverboat, Haley tells the assembled slaves, including Tom, to behave on the journey south. Above-deck, white families discuss the institution of slavery, with... (full context)
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Tom offers comfort to Lucy but she shrugs it off, moans to herself. That night, she... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evangeline
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La Belle Riviere continues down the Mississippi. Tom’s conduct has convinced Haley he is trustworthy; Tom is therefore allowed to sleep without fetters... (full context)
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Tom takes out his Bible and reads, haltingly, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions... (full context)
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...and smiles at the slaves, the “firemen” who shovel coal, and others. She meets Uncle Tom, takes an immediate liking to him, and offers that her father might buy him. At... (full context)
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The next day, St. Clare does in fact offer to buy Tom from Haley. Haley sets the price at $1300. St. Clare jokes that Tom’s Christianity, intelligence,... (full context)
Chapter 15: Of Tom’s New Master, and Various Other Matters
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St. Clare tells Marie he has brought her a new coachman, Tom. Marie believes that Tom will drink and shirk his duty like their pervious driver. After... (full context)
Chapter 16: Tom’s Mistress and Her Opinions
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...opinion, and Marie says educating slaves is worthless. Ophelia also criticizes St. Clare for letting Tom play with Eva; she finds this “dreadful.” St. Clare says that the two care for... (full context)
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...more people for her to love. She tells of her Bible studies and singing with Tom, and St. Clare relates that Tom has begun praying for St. Clare’s conversion to Christianity. (full context)
Chapter 18: Miss Ophelia’s Experiences and Opinions
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Uncle Tom takes over management of the St. Clare household’s finances. After St. Clare stays out late... (full context)
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...buy alcohol, maintaining a state of perpetual drunkenness to hide her sadness. When Prue enters, Tom offers to carry her basket, and Prue tells him her life-story: she gave birth to... (full context)
Chapter 19: Miss Ophelia’s Experience and Opinions (Continued)
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...faithful to St. Clare for the rest of his life. Later, Eva tries to help Tom write a letter to Aunt Chloe. When the effort proves difficult, St. Clare steps in... (full context)
Chapter 21: Kentuck
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Back in Kentucky, on the Shelby plantation, Mrs. Shelby tells her husband that Tom’s letter to Aunt Chloe has arrived. Mr. Shelby hints that business affairs have not improved... (full context)
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...as a cook to another family, and her wages could be used to buy back Tom. Sam has reported to Chloe that a bakery in Louisville wants to hire a cook... (full context)
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...plans to run it by Mr. Shelby. Young George arrives, pleased to have news from Tom, and eats a final meal with Aunt Chloe before she heads off to Louisville. As... (full context)
Chapter 22: “The Grass Withereth—The Flowers Fadeth”
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Tom has lived in the St. Clare home for two years, and though he misses Kentucky... (full context)
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...lake as a “sea of glass mingled with fire,” words from the Bible, and tells Tom she has seen angels and expects to be in heaven soon. Uncle Tom remembers that... (full context)
Chapter 23: Henrique
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...is dusty. Henrique reacts angrily, yells at Dodo, and slaps him in the face. When Tom tries to explain the situation, Henrique tells him to be quiet. Eva asks why Henrique... (full context)
Chapter 24: Foreshadowings
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...she acknowledges that she will miss her father and the servants she loves. Eva tells Tom she knows why Jesus wished to sacrifice his life for man’s sins. Eva feels she... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Little Evangelist
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...a better doctor than the one who cares for Eva to attend to her. Eva, Tom, and Miss Ophelia return from a Methodist prayer service and Ophelia finds that Topsy has... (full context)
Chapter 26: Death
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...Jesus without having proof of his existence, Eva says that she believes in him completely. Tom often carries Eva outside and sings to her. (full context)
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Tom and Miss Ophelia sense that Eva will die soon. For her part, Eva seems content.... (full context)
Chapter 27: “This Is the Last of the Earth”
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...Eva’s death. Mammy worries about him. Marie claims he never cared for Eva at all. Tom goes in to St. Clare to tell him that Eva is now in heaven, where... (full context)
Chapter 28: Reunion
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...the Bible and attempts to increase his oversight of household activities. He promises to set Tom free and is surprised that Tom has no desire to remain in the St. Clare... (full context)
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...wounded while trying to break up a fight at a café. St. Clare, dying, asks Tom to pray with him, and he announces that he is going home—his last word is... (full context)
Chapter 29: The Unprotected
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...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... (full context)
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Tom relates to Miss Ophelia the promise St. Clare made him, to grant him freedom on... (full context)
Chapter 30: The Slave Warehouse
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...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... (full context)
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Tom is put up to auction and is sold to Simon Legree, a cruel plantation owner... (full context)
Chapter 31: The Middle Passage
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Tom is shackled hand and foot on a boat running down the Red River. Beecher Stowe... (full context)
Chapter 32: Dark Places
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Tom marches behind Legree’s wagon with the other recently-purchased slaves. When Legree demands they sing a... (full context)
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...for their “laziness.” Legree encourages the two to spy on and compete with one another. Tom is led to the slave quarters, and Emmeline is asked to stay in the plantation... (full context)
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Beecher Stowe relates the picking of cotton to a slow form of torture. Tom watches as the slaves come in, broken and exhausted, from the fields. He is given... (full context)
Chapter 33: Cassy
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Though Tom is tired and uncomfortable, he quickly adapts to his work on the plantation. Legree notices... (full context)
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The fine-featured woman tells Tom he must be new to the plantation, otherwise he wouldn’t help his fellow slave. Sambo... (full context)
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Tom refuses the command to whip Luce, saying he will do any work himself but will... (full context)
Chapter 34: The Quadroon’s Story
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Tom lies back in his quarters, bloodied and in pain. Cassy arrives with water and tends... (full context)
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Cassy reads to Tom the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion. Tom says that the Lord challenges us with suffering but... (full context)
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...Cassy says that, for this reason, she can no longer believe in God’s charity, but Tom asks her to try to do so, and Cassy leaves for the evening. (full context)
Chapter 35: The Tokens
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...begins in Legree’s sitting room, where he is complaining of the complications introduced by Uncle Tom’s refusal to cooperate with his demands. Cassy comes into the room and Legree believes she... (full context)
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Cassy reveals that she has come to see Legree to argue with him over Tom’s treatment. Legree feels he will eventually “break” Tom, but Cassy says it won’t be done—Tom’s... (full context)
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...by the coincidence of Eva’s and his mother’s hair-locks, thinking that the hair recovered from Tom might be his mother’s hair, “back from the dead.” He hears Emmeline singing a hymn... (full context)
Chapter 36: Emmeline and Cassy
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...removing a veil. The next morning, Cassy recommends that a hung-over Legree not too work Tom so hard, since it would ruin Legree’s investment. Cassy repeats that Legree will not be... (full context)
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Legree finds Tom and tells him to “beg pardon” for his impudence the previous day. Tom refuses, since... (full context)
Chapter 38: The Victory
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Legree discusses Tom’s more cheerful mood with Sambo, who suggests that Tom might wish to run away. Legree... (full context)
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Cassy comes to Tom later and tells him that she has drugged Legree via his brandy—they can murder Legree... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Martyr
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Legree is incensed at Emmeline and Cassy’s disappearance, and he takes his anger out on Tom, who is overjoyed at the news. Friends of Legree’s continue to hunt the swamps for... (full context)
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Legree tells Quimbo to beat Tom until he reveals any knowledge of Emmeline and Cassy’s escape. Tom knows where they are... (full context)
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Legree encourages Sambo and Quimbo to beat Tom mercilessly. They realize they are doing something “wicked” and hope that this sin will fall... (full context)
Chapter 41: The Young Master
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...passed away, Mrs. Shelby is now manager of the estate, and after hearing only that Tom has been sold at public auction, George headed south to inquire after him. The search... (full context)
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Cassy sneaks out from the garret, briefly, to hear about Tom and breaks down crying—her faith is Jesus is somewhat restored. George meets with Tom, who... (full context)
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George curses Legree but Tom says he must not do so. Tom passes away, and George, Sambo, and Quimbo prepare... (full context)
Chapter 44: The Liberator
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 45: Concluding Remarks
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...fiction and a composite of different tales, it is based heavily in fact. Eliza, Uncle Tom, Old Prue, Legree, and others all come from stories Beecher Stowe has heard from others.... (full context)