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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 34-36

Summary

Tom wakes groaning and bleeding. Another slave, Cassy, tends to him. She urges Tom to submit to Legree, but Tom only cries out to God to help him. Cassy tells him God will not help them; they are only slaves. She tells him there is no law on Legree's plantation but his own; Legree can even bury his slaves alive, if he chooses. No white man would testify against him. She tells Tom he is doomed to die if he does not learn to submit. Tom tells her he does not want to become inured to cruelty and suffering. He has lost everything-- wife, children, home, a kind master, freedom. If he loses his faith and morality, he loses heaven as well. He asks Cassy to read to him from the Bible. When she comes to the touching words "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," she sobs aloud. Tom tells her, "sufferin' an't no reason to make us think the Lord's turned again us; but jest the contrary, if only we hold on to him, and doesn't give up to sin."

Cassy then tells Tom her story. Her father was a white man who brought her up in luxury. He always meant to set her free. After his sudden death, she was sold to a man with whom she fell in love. They had two beautiful children, Henry and Elise. To settle his gambling debts, however, her husband sold the children. Cassy went mad after seeing her young son whipped as a slave. After that, she was sold to Captain Stuart and had a son by him. After Stuart's death Legree purchased her. She hates him passionately and plans to kill him. She tells Tom she does not believe there is a God. Tom simply tells her, "O, Missis, I wish you'd go to him that can give you living waters!"

Legree, meanwhile, is in his sitting room cursing Sambo for having beaten Tom so badly that he is unable to work. Cassy enters and tells him he will not be able to break Tom's spirit. Legree declares that even if he breaks every bone in Tom's body, he will break Tom. Cassy leaves to care for Tom again.


After Cassy returns from her visit to Tom, she goes to Emmeline's room. She finds Emmeline pale with fear, sitting in the furthest corner. She wants to run away, into the swamps, but Cassy points out the futility of escape. She tells Emmeline the best she can do is submit to Legree and "make it up in hating and cursing."

Meanwhile Legree, after dismissing Sambo and Quimbo, falls into a drunken stupor. He has a nightmare in which he dreams that his mother has come to haunt him. He doesn't wake from it till morning. Angered by Cassy's admonition to leave Tom alone, Legree goes to see him. Tom, displaying dignity, tells him that since he has bought him, he will be faithful servant and work hard for him, but he will never give up his soul to him. Legree starts to beat Tom, but Cassy interferes.

Notes

It is evident that Tom, even in his anguish, will not abandon God. Instead he prays for victory. Tom's faith assists him in his misery. He does not want to descend to the bestial level that Sambo, Quimbo and the rest of them have fallen to, even if it means an end to the brutality against him. Like the saint he is, Tom refuses to hate Legree. He declares "Poor critturs! -- what made 'em cruel?" He is resigned to service as long as he is bought and sold. The only thing he can hope for is a place in Heaven. When he makes Cassy read, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," one can suppose that he has forgiven his tormentors. All that is left is for him to lead them to the Lord.

Cassy's hold over Legree is curious and unaccountable. She has become an object of dread to him, playing on his superstitions. In many ways, she keeps him in check. She knows how to deal with him and effectively intervenes to prevent him from whipping Tom further. For some time, she has been Legree's mistress, against her will. Now that Legree has turned his affections toward the frightened Emmeline, Cassy hopes to help her. Surprisingly, she is not jealous of Emmeline. In fact, Emmeline reminds her of her own daughter and only increases her hate for Legree.

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