Marie tells St. Clare that she is sick, and she needs 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 destroyed her cloth with a scissors. Ophelia, exasperated, wishes to whip her. St. Clare remarks that women can be quite violent, though Marie agrees with Ophelia. Ophelia wishes to give up the care of Topsy.
An illustration of Marie’s childish “mothering.” Indeed, it often appears that Eva is the mother and Marie the child. Miss Ophelia’s desire to whip Topsy resonates with Marie—Ophelia has fallen into the trap of cruelty that all slave-owners eventually experience.
Eva, however, speaks to Topsy and asks her why she misbehaves. Topsy says no one can love her because she is black; Eva disagrees and says Ophelia will love her if she is good, but Topsy says Ophelia refuses even to touch her. Eva declares she loves Topsy, and Topsy cries, promising to try harder to be good. Ophelia, witnessing this exchange, acknowledges her prejudice against black people to St. Clare and vows to learn loving-kindness from Eva’s example.
Only Eva is capable of speaking with Topsy as a person, and it is because Eva chooses to love Topsy unconditionally, in accordance with Christian law. And in doing so, Eva transforms Topsy. By giving unconditional love, Eva inspires others to give the same. This is an example to Miss Ophelia, whose understanding of Christian duty did not previously include the practice of universal Christian love. Thus Eva is Ophelia's teacher and her guide in moving past a rigidly moral Christianity to one based on love.