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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 42-44

Summary

For some unaccountable reason, around this time, the servants in Legree's place start whispering about apparitions in the house. Legends of ghosts haunt the place. The ghosts are no other than Cassy and Emmeline. Legree starts drinking more than usual. Soon after, there are reports that he is sick and dying. He becomes a raving lunatic. Cassy and Emmeline finally leave the house in disguise. George Shelby is on the same steamer. He assures the two women that he will do everything in his power to protect them. On the same boat they meet a woman named Madame de Thoux. She is George Harris' sister. Through chance they discover that Eliza is Cassy's daughter. Madame de Thoux, Cassy, and Emmeline go to Amherstberg to the same missionary who had given George and Eliza shelter.

For the past several years, George and Eliza have been living in Montreal. George works as a machinist. During his leisure time he educates himself. A daughter, Eliza, has been added to the family. Harry is being educated as well. There is a happy reunion when Madame de Thoux meets her brother and Eliza meets her mother. Madame de Thoux gives George money so that he can pursue his education in France. The entire group moves to France, where George takes up studies at a French University.

Due to political troubles, however, they soon leave France. In a letter to one of his friends George writes that he has thrown in his lot with his mother's race. He has no wish to pass for an American or identify with them. He decides to go to the newly formed republic of Liberia and work for the good of the country.


Miss Ophelia has taken Topsy to Vermont, where the young girl is properly educated. At her own request, Topsy is baptized. When she grows up she is sent to one of the stations in Africa. Madame de Thoux manages to trace down Cassy's son, who will also follow his family to Africa.

Meanwhile, the narrative returns to George Shelby, who is arriving home after his search for Tom. He immediately frees all his slaves, especially poor Chloe. Many do not want to leave but George assures them that they can stay on as free men and women. He promises to teach them how to use their rights. He concludes by telling them of Tom's death; he tells them they owe their freedom to Tom. "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."

Notes

These three chapters wind up the story, tying up all the loose ends. Legree's slow death is the correct moral retribution for all the evil he had perpetuated. Through a series of coincidences that seem contrived and overt, Cassy is found to be Eliza's mother and reunited with her. Tom's injunctions that she should pray for grace and guidance has borne some fruit, in that she has been given back part of her family. The family reunion is a characteristically happy and sentimental one.

George's letter to his friend, in which he states his decision to go to the newly formed republic of Liberia, shows his disillusionment with America and the Anglo-Saxon race. He clearly states that he has cast his lot with the oppressed and enslaved African race. His bitterness with the whites is credible but overlooks the many white men and women who have helped him win his freedom, such as Mr. Wilson, Senator and Mrs. Bird, and the Quakers. He appears to have built up a Utopian vision for Liberia. He has opted to work for the emancipation of the slaves in America from outside the country, by building up public opinion against the injustice of slavery.

Historically, Stowe's wrap-up of the novel is problematic in that she sends all the major black characters (except Cassy) to Africa. Some have called this ambivalence; some have called it covert racism. Even during Stowe's time, her decision to send George to Liberia was not welcomed by those who were fighting the various colonization schemes being offered as a solution to the racist problem in America.

George Shelby, unlike St. Clare, acts immediately once he has made his decision. He realizes that freedom cannot be delayed. As well, it ought not be misused. The emancipated slaves must learn to use and protect their freedom; George has committed himself to this cause.

In the end, none of this would have taken place if Tom's life had not been sacrificed. Uncle Tom's cabin has become a memorial, a symbol of his goodness, honesty and faithfulness. It is the final symbol of freedom in the novel.

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