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Free Study Guide-Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe-Free Notes

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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTERS 29-30

Summary

After her husband's death Marie St. Clare decides to sell off the house and the slaves. Miss Ophelia tries to reason with her but fails. She writes a letter to Mrs. Shelby about Tom and urges her to redeem him at the earliest.

At the slave warehouse, Tom is sold to Simon Legree. Legree is a short bullet-headed man whom Tom dislikes at first sight. He is a businessman and ruthless slave trader from the North who came to live in the South for the slave trade.


Notes

In this chapter, Stowe quite rightly points out that unprotected slaves (the ones without paperwork guaranteeing their freedom) lik2e those in the St. Clare household have no acknowledged rights or status. The greatest determining factor in the quality of a particular slave's life is the character of his master. For the most part, the slave is just "a bale of merchandise." Marie, who before St. Clare's death had merely been a whining annoyance, emerges as a bitter and wicked woman. She has no guilt in ordering the slaves to be whipped and callously maintains that such punishment is the only way slaves can be kept in order. She disregards her late husband's wishes in giving Tom his freedom. Her defense is that he is one of her most valuable assets and she cannot afford the loss of profit from his sale.

Another important addition to the continuing saga of Tom's life is the introduction of Legree. Sadly, Tom's hopes of freedom are not only dashed, he is also dealt the cruelest twist of fate when he new master is as villainous as Legree.

Some of the characters in the slave warehouse are mentioned in particular, including Susan and Emmeline. Stowe uses the plight of these two women to give voice to her own bitter sarcasm about the hypocrisy of slavery. For example, in the narrative, Stowe describes the sale of Emmeline in financial terms. The money goes to a "member of the Christian church in New York, who will receive the money, and go thereafter to the sacrament of his Lord and theirs, and think no more of it." Again Stowe's biting sarcasm is apparent when she says on the reverse of the draft they should write these words of the great paymaster-- "when he maketh inquisition for blood, he forgetteth not the cry of the humble!"

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