Uncle Tom’s Cabin

by: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Chapters X–XIII

Summary Chapters X–XIII

Moreover, Uncle Tom’s passivity enables the novel’s most trenchant exploration of the conflict between Christian ideals and the cruel inhumanities of slavery. Tom’s policy of “turning the other cheek” stems from a religious faith, and thus his behavior may be interpreted as owing less to weakness than to principle. Tom believes in a world beyond this one, and he keeps the notion of his afterlife foremost in his mind, trusting that today’s suffering will be tomorrow’s salvation. This attitude contrasts strongly with George’s lack of faith, evident in his argument with Eliza in Chapter III. By juxtaposing George against Tom in this way, Stowe establishes George as a romantic hero—one who involves himself in a determined struggle to defend his passions—while making Tom a martyr, willing to sacrifice his own interests for the good of the greater cause.

In Chapter XIII, the Quakers appear as a happy medium between these two extremes. While they believe in love and goodwill toward all people, they do not flinch from some amount of civil disobedience in order to help escaping slaves. Throughout the book, Stowe depicts her Quaker characters as people who, in their fight against slavery, always find a way to balance their love for God with their love for humanity.