Though Tom is tired and uncomfortable, he quickly adapts to his work on the plantation. Legree notices Tom’s abilities and resolves to “harden” him to make him suitable for overseeing other slaves. Tom notices a new women, beautiful and with fine features, walking outside; she is jeered at by some of the slaves. She works quickly in the fields and appears not to belong in them. Tom helps another old woman, Luce, by placing some of his cotton into her bag to make sure she ends up with enough to meet her daily quota and avoid punishment, but Sambo notices her slowness and stabs her with a pin. Tom continues putting cotton in her bag.
Just like Shelby and St. Clare, Legree recognizes Tom’s intelligence and inner strength. Unlike the first two owners, however, he wishes only to use Tom’s abilities to help discipline the other slaves. Tom’s martyrdom is foreshadowed here, as he helps a tired, enfeebled slave by putting picked cotton in her bag so she won't get punished for failing to meet her quota, risking his own wellbeing in the process.
The fine-featured woman tells Tom he must be new to the plantation, otherwise he wouldn’t help his fellow slave. Sambo seeks to whip her but, realizing that it is Cassy, he goes away sheepishly. Sambo has seen Tom aiding Luce, and Legree resolves that the way he will “harden” Tom is by forcing him to whip her.
This is the first test for Tom on the Legree plantation. If he is willing to whip a fellow slave, perhaps he can be trained as an overseer and made to manage the plantation like Sambo and Quimbo.
Tom refuses the command to whip Luce, saying he will do any work himself but will not hurt another. In response, Legree beats and kicks him mercilessly, and announces that Tom’s soul belongs to him. At this Tom cries that his soul will always remain his, no matter what they do to his body. He is beaten further and dragged back to his quarters.
A turning point in the novel. Tom will not abandon his faith, even in the face of terrible physical harm. He says that his soul will always remain his. This Christian teaching provides him the strength he needs to stand up to Legree and his associates, and it allows him to assert a degree of freedom even within his slavery. His body may not be his, but his soul is.