Chapter 7: The Mother’s Struggle
Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 8: Eliza’s Escape Summary & Analysis
Chapter 9: In Which It Appears That a Senator is but a Man
As 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 explains the day’s events, and Marks, Haley, and Loker discuss the “strange” responses of female slaves to the sale of their children. Haley once bought a woman who drowned herself and her child to avoid being sold separately, and Loker explains how he threatens women to keep them from doing the same.
Haley is surprised by the woman’s response—that she would be willing to kill herself and her child rather than expose herself to the horrors of slavery. This notion of self-murder and child-murder is repeated, later, on the riverboat and in Cassy’s backstory. It also shows how Haley, who sees slavery as "just business," can't comprehend the horrors of actually being a slave.
Haley repeats to Loker his theory of slave-trading: always keep profits in mind, and only be as cruel as necessary, for economic gain. Loker, on the other hand, argues that slave-trading his inherently evil and violent—to him, paradoxically, it is right to acknowledge its evil and embrace it. Marks steers the subject back to Eliza and Harry.
Two theories of slave-trading: Haley, as before, wishes only to turn a profit; for Loker, on the other hand, slavery’s evil enables evils of his own. Loker does not worry so much about profit, and instead delights in the cruelty slavery lets him inflict on slaves.
Marks proposes that he and Loker will catch the two, return Harry to Haley, and sell Eliza into enslaved prostitution in New Orleans, since she is fair-skinned and attractive. Haley agrees in principle but asks for ten percent of Eliza’s sale price; Loker threatens Haley, however, and Haley relents, accepting the return of Harry as payment enough. Marks and Loker resolve to cross the river that night on a hired boat, and Beecher Stowe addresses the reader, saying that slave-catching is a shocking though lawful business, and if the west is opened to slavery, it will become more common.
The mention of selling Eliza into prostitution is a reference to a common practice. Beecher Stowe must acknowledge the sexual slave trade in New Orleans using “polite” language. Nevertheless, such sexual slavery this is a significant part of the slave-trading economy. Beecher Stowe’s address to the reader similarly underscores that, despite the horrors these two men describe, what they do is legal—the “property” they catch can have no legal rights.
Sam and Andy return to the estate and inform the Shelbys of Eliza’s escape. Sam argues that the Lord helped Eliza cross the ice floe, and Mr. Shelby chastises Sam for his delaying 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 grand and comic speech to all, and argues that persistence (displayed in his aid to Eliza) is a fine principle to live by.
Sam is, in many ways, a comic character—he is a foil to Uncle Tom’s seriousness. Sam also feels that a divine hand helped Eliza in her escape. His speech before his fellow slaves both memorializes his importance and accomplishments and points to the ability of slaves to organize and maintain their culture while on the estate.