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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

CHAPTER 45

Summary

In this final chapter, Stowe speaks directly to her readership about the origin and implications of the story she has presented. She states she has received many inquiries regarding the authenticity of her narrative and assures her audience that the separate incidents that occur in the novel are for the most part authentic, directly observed either by her or by her friends. She states that for her part, she avoided reading anything on slavery till the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850). It shocked her to learn that humane Christian people actually believed it was a binding moral duty to return fugitive slaves to their "rightful" owners. She felt compelled to make the situation a dramatic reality, in order to show that such "justice" was neither moral nor humane.


She remarks that she has given only "a faint shadow, a dim picture of the anguish and despair that are at this very moment, riving thousands of hearts, shattering thousands of families, and driving a helpless and sensitive race to frenzy and despair." She appeals to the men and women of America to listen to her. She reminds her readership that ignoring slavery is akin to defending and encouraging it. She indicts the North for defending and encouraging the system by excusing the South, saying they do "not have the apology of education or custom."

Further, she says it is wrong to fill Africa with "an ignorant, inexperienced, half- barbarized race, just escaped from the chains of slavery." The church of the North should receive the freed slaves and educate them till they achieve a moral and intellectual maturity, then send them to Liberia. She believes a day of vengeance is upon America and both North and South are "guilty before God." If slavery continues then it will bring down "the wrath of Almighty God."

Notes

Chapter 45 is not part of the story of Uncle Tom. It is an appendage explaining Stowe's stand on slavery. Here she becomes a crusader; she even uses the lofty third person in her writing. She makes free use of rhetorical questions to drive home her point that people in both the North and the South are responsible for perpetuating and encouraging slavery. She takes on a self- righteous tone in trying to make the people in the Northern States aware of their responsibilities towards the slaves. She approves of the idea of populating the newly formed republic of Liberia with former slaves, on the condition they are given education and helped to develop morally and intellectually. The inappropriateness of such a "solution" was questioned in her time, and is totally rejected today.

Stowe is correct in her assessment that the slaves desire education. They want to give their children a better chance in life without the disadvantages they have faced. Given the chance, many former slaves have done reasonably well for themselves and have broken the myth that released slaves do not know what to do with their freedom. Stowe refers to the examples of former slaves who are now educated, such as Pennington, Douglass, and Ward. She pleads for positive, decisive action. She prays for the end of slavery.

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