Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Conclusion of Uncle Tom's Cabin


Chapter XLI – The Young Master
Backtrack to the letter Miss Ophelia wrote to Mrs. Shelby: first it was delayed at the post office for a month or more; then a response was delayed because Mr. Shelby fell ill and died; the lawyer Miss Ophelia recommended was not helpful; and young Master George Shelby had no success in locating Tom while in New Orleans, until he met someone to help him.  By then, George arrived at Legree’s plantation two days after the aforementioned event, and Tom was dying.   Tom was able to see or hear George one last time.  He dies with George by his side, and George takes his body and buries him away from the plantation.  George also knocks Legree out and vows to do all he can to put an end to slavery.

The Death of Uncle Tom - Charles Bour
Chapter XLII – An Authentic Ghost Story
The ghost stories continue at Legree’s, which he overhears from the slaves, and it provides a way for Cassy and Emmeline to escape wearing white sheets, adding to the rumors of ghost sightings at the plantation.  At sunrise, they are in new disguises as they prepare to board a boat upriver when they recognize George Shelby, whom they watched remove Tom’s body while they watched from the loophole in the garret, and Cassy tells him her true story; he vows to help them.  In addition, they meet Madame de Thoux, who tells her true story about being the sister of George Harris.  George Shelby tells her that Harris is now escaped to Canada and married to Eliza, a woman purchased by the Simmons family, which confirms for Cassy that it is her own daughter.

Chapter XLIII – Results
Cassy and Madame de Thoux continue on to Canada where they are able to track down George and Eliza, who have been in Canada for five years and have added a baby girl.  Since the death of Madame de Thoux’s husband, she has acquired great wealth, and the entire family leaves for France, where Emmeline marries a shipmate.  After several years in France, George receives an education, but they must return to America.  In a letter to a friend, George makes his arguments why he must bring his family to Africa to be with his people.  Finally, Miss Ophelia raises Topsy in Vermont, where she becomes a Christian woman and heads to Africa to do missionary work.  And P.S. Madame de Thoux was able to inquire about and contact Cassy’s son, who now is also on his way to Africa.

Chapter XLIV – The Liberator
When Master George arrives home, he tells Mrs. Shelby and Chloe that Tom has gone to a better place, causing great sadness in Chloe’s heart after having worked five years for someone else to earn the money to redeem Tom.  George gathers all the servants together and releases them from service, granting them their freedom; and though no one wants to go, he assures them that they may stay and work for wages, but to know that in the event of hard times or death, he will never have them sold and separated from their loved ones.  It was his promise he made before God the day he said goodbye to Tom: 
“…that I would never own another slave, while it was possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation as he died.  So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children.  Think of your freedom every time you see Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”
Chapter XLV – Concluding Remarks
Ms. Harriet Beecher Stowe gives an account of true stories about real people presented in her Uncle Tom's Cabin.  She addresses Christians - what their moral responsibility is towards slavery: certainly they cannot remain silent or look away, but rather provide education, moral and religious instructions, and training in Christian republican society, that this race may return to Africa, at their liberty, in order to “practice the lessons they have learned in America.” And she asks what an individual can do: pray.

Her final statement is thus: 
“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.  Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved, - but by repentance, justice and mercy; 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!”

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