Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

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The Bible Symbol Icon
The Bible is both a practical item in the novel—it is the only book Uncle Tom owns—and a symbol for the endurance of his, and other’s, Christian faith. Tom manages to keep his Bible from the hands of Simon Legree, and throughout his trials, as he moves from the Shelby estate to St. Clare’s home to the Legree plantation, the Bible is a source of comfort and strength. Tom forms bonds with Eva, Cassy, George Shelby, St. Clare, and other characters when they read the Bible together. And, of course, the Bible provides the religious wisdom enabling Tom to withstand his brutal treatment at the hands of Legree. Tom’s ability to read the Bible despite his circumstances gives hope to those who struggle with their faith, including St. Clare and Cassy.

The Bible Quotes in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Uncle Tom's Cabin quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bible. 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:
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
). 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 4: An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin Quotes

Uncle Tom was a sort of patriarch in religious matters . . . . Having, naturally, an organization in which the morale was strongly predominant, together with a greater breadth and cultivation of mind than obtained among his companions . . . .

Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene of the novel, Uncle Tom is shown to be not only the center of authority in his family (a very kind-hearted authority indeed), but also a source for religious teaching and wisdom. Uncle Tom, as the narrator states, has read a great deal of the Bible, and has committed much of it to memory. Further, he abides by these teachings - he does not merely espouse them but works, day in and day out, to live by them to put them into practice.

This will become important later in the novel, when Tom has his faith tested by many people and in many ways. Some, like Legree, will even try to make Tom abandon his faith - they will tempt him, they will beat him, and wonder whether his Christian God can save him. Even in these moments, however, Tom's faith, as evident in this passage, remains strong and unbroken. 

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Chapter 8: Eliza’s Escape Quotes

Run up a bill with the devil all your life, and then sneak out when pay time comes! Boh!

Related Characters: Tom Loker (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Loker, speaking to his friend Marks, who also looks for escaped slaves (like Loker does), argues an interesting and perhaps nonsensical view of human morality here. Loker believes that slavery is, of itself, not a moral thing. It is a system, instead, that relies on human cruelty and violence. It is one where humans own and exploit other human beings. Thus, catching escaped slaves is another brutal part of a brutal business. If Loker doesn't believe that his job is just or right, he also doesn't believe that it's any worse than any other aspect of the slave trade. It is simply one more component in a world that is far from any Christian ideal.

Although Loker's arguments are brutal, there is a simplicity and a clarity to them also. He does not make any claims for the moral high ground, as some defenders of slavery in the South did at the time. For this, in a very small way, Loker's views are at least comprehensible, even if they are also certainly reprehensible.

Chapter 9: In Which It Appears That a Senator is but a Man Quotes

You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It’s a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I’ll break it, for one, the first time I get a chance . . . .

Related Characters: Senator and Mrs. Bird (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another instance of well-intentioned and impassioned argument by white Americans, wondering what is ethical and right in the face of human bondage occurring in the South. Mrs. Bird, whose husband is a Senator, believes that any law preventing people from helping fugitive slaves, in a free state like Ohio or in any state, is deeply immoral. But the Senator argues, for his part, that though he also feels this way, he has other obligations as a Senator. One of them is to preserve the balance of power between states in the United States - it is, in short, to avoid war.

Of course, the reader today understands that war could not be avoided, and that Senator Bird's theory, in this case, proved incorrect. For there was no amount of moderation that could prevent the conflict between free and slave states from spilling over. There could be no ultimate compromise on the issue of human freedom and inequality. And this latter position seems to align more closely with Mrs. Bird's -- another example of a woman taking a more sympathetic view on slavery than the novel's men. 

Chapter 19: Miss Ophelia’s Experience and Opinions (Continued) Quotes

On this abstract question of slavery there can, as I think, be but one opinion. Planters, who have money to make by it—clergymen, who have planters to please—politicians, who want to rule by it—may warp and bend language . . . they can press nature and the Bible . . . into their service; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more.

Related Characters: Augustine St. Clare (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:

Augustine makes plain exactly the intellectual system that allows people in the South to defend the practice of slavery. For Augustine, the system is not a "natural" one, and it does not derive from any inferiority of African Americans to white Americans. Instead, slavery is a business system, an interaction of those who own land and capital (the plantation owners) and those who would, under different circumstances, sell their labor to the farms (the slaves). Under the system, as Augustine notes, owners have taken away the workers ability to work where they please - they have established instead a system of rules that prevent the recognition even of the humanity of the workers. This has not been done in accordance with any universal principle, and it is by no means the only way for the world to work. It is, instead, the way the South works at this moment - and all the moral or religious arguments defending slavery come after this economic reality, not before. Though Augustine sees the truth of his society, he despairs at the thought of the Southern system changing any time soon. 

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 45: Concluding Remarks Quotes

A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer . . . .For, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!

Related Symbols: The Bible
Page Number: 511
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section Beecher Stowe speaks in her own voice, and prophetically, as one who has created in the novel a parable of good and evil in America in the middle of the nineteenth century. Beecher Stowe has attempted to create both a "realistic" and an allegorical work - one that reflects society as it was at the time, and shows the battles of good and evil that existed in that society in symbolic terms.

Beecher Stowe believes that this conflict of slavery vs. freedom can only end in some form of cataclysm. There were increasingly in the 1840s and 1850s those who thought the same way, and were willing, in the North, to take a harder line against slavery in the South. Although there were a great many factors leading to the Civil War (nearly all of which did revolve in one way or another around the issue of enslavement of African Americans), Beecher Stowe's novel, problematic though it might be, is now seen as a spark that presented the issues of slavery to a wide reading public - and helped pave the way for the long struggle of equal rights for all Americans. 

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The Bible Symbol Timeline in Uncle Tom's Cabin

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bible appears in Uncle Tom's Cabin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: An Evening in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
Christianity and Christian Charity Theme Icon
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George agrees to read a Bible passage for the meeting, and soon a large group of slaves from the plantation have... (full context)
Chapter 11: In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind
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...Wilson warns George that the venture is risky, unlawful, and against the word of the Bible. He quotes the example of Hagar returning to her mistress. George replies that he is... (full context)
Chapter 12: Select Incident of Lawful Trade
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...has been to Tom—loosening his manacles—despite being tricked by slaves before. Tom, meanwhile, remembers a Bible verse in which God “hath prepared for us a city” (heaven). Haley spots a newspaper... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evangeline
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Tom takes out his Bible and reads, haltingly, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions . . . .”... (full context)
Chapter 16: Tom’s Mistress and Her Opinions
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...it means her household contains 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... (full context)
Chapter 20: Topsy
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Miss Ophelia tries to teach Topsy the Bible, but Topsy learns the passages only by rote, and perhaps willfully misunderstands them, in order... (full context)
Chapter 22: “The Grass Withereth—The Flowers Fadeth”
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
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...contents. Eva and Tom grow closer, and the two of them take turns reading the Bible together, with Eva enjoying “Revelations and the Prophecies the most.” (full context)
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Reading from the Bible at the St. Clare summer home on Lake Ponchartrain, Eva believes she sees the lake... (full context)
Chapter 23: Henrique
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...Henrique responds that one may “like but not love” one’s servants. Eva says that the Bible asks people to love all humankind. Henrique promises that he will try to love all,... (full context)
Chapter 24: Foreshadowings
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...although Miss Ophelia and the doctor do not believe it. Eva finds comfort in the Bible, believing she is returning “home” to Jesus, but she acknowledges that she will miss her... (full context)
Chapter 26: Death
Slavery and Race Theme Icon
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...family into her room, asking them to care for their eternal souls and follow the Bible’s teachings. The slaves in particular are struck by her speech and sob intensely. Eva distributes... (full context)
Chapter 28: Reunion
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St. Clare’s personality changes: he begins reading the Bible and attempts to increase his oversight of household activities. He promises to set Tom free... (full context)
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...Ophelia is “softened” after Eva’s death, and Topsy has taken to reading a collection of Bible passages Eva gave her before her death. Miss Ophelia wishes to “purchase” Topsy so that... (full context)
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St. Clare reads Tom a Bible passage from Matthew ending, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least... (full context)
Chapter 32: Dark Places
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...Lord could abide with them there. Tom has a pleasant dream of Eva reading the Bible near Lake Ponchartrain and wonders if she has visited him in his sleep. (full context)
Chapter 38: The Victory
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...even though he is still gravely injured. Tom finds it increasingly hard to read the Bible in his minimal spare time. (full context)