Dead or Alive?

I was born dead. The doctor did nothing to resuscitate me. The hospital staff saw nothing wrong with my vital signs. I was a healthy newborn. But I was dead in sin, born in iniquity. The nurses could do nothing to save me from the wickedness that was in my heart. I spent the first twelve years of my life believing I was alive when the truth was far from it. Paul wrote to the Romans, “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23, ESV). I was a sinner separated from God by an impossible void. I could not save myself. I had no hope. In my seventh grade year, I immersed myself in worldly pleasures. I hung out with the wrong people at school. I did not go to church or read my Bible. I constantly rebelled against my parents. But God allowed me to fall so that He alone could pull me up. A pastor from a local church visited our home in November of 2001. My parents explained to him the difficulties they were having with me. He took me aside and we discussed my situation. He clearly showed me the wretchedness of my own heart and compared it to the holiness of God. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the fact that God required perfect righteousness from me, but because I broke His law, I would be justly punished in Hell for eternity. Then the pastor revealed the glorious Gospel, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, born of a virgin, died for my sins and rose on the third day, and if I would repent and trust in Him, He would save me. That night God lifted me out of the darkness of my sin into the light of His holiness. I did not deserve forgiveness, I could not earn it, but God chose to be gracious toward me. Paul continued in Romans six,”…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The Bible makes it clear that true Christians are promised eternal life in Heaven. Because Christ paid my debt when He died at Calvary, I am no longer required to go to Hell. His righteousness is imparted to me. The Holy Spirit lives in me, guiding me in the sanctification process and assuring me of the reward to come. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). That is the story of my second birth, my live birth. I heard and believed, and now I am living to glorify my God and worship Him forever.

Quote of the Month - March 2007

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" — Albert Einstein

UTC - Chapters 37-45

Meanwhile, back at the Quaker settlement, Tom Loker suggested that Eliza disguise herself in order to get to Canada. Descriptions were always put out on runaway slaves, so they could be caught. Finally, the Harris's arrived in the land of liberty for slaves. They went to a mission to begin their new life. Uncle Tom, over time at Legree's plantation, began to lose heart and faith. Legree took notice of that and mocked him. Tom felt refreshed, though, after the taunting. Everyone noticed a difference in Tom's attitude and behavior. Cassy wanted to kill Legree but was physically too weak. She attempted to enlist Tom's help but he rebuked her for thinking of such wickedness. He would rather she run away than murder. Legree was afraid of the attic in his house because one of his slaves had died there and he thought it was haunted. Cassy and Emmeline "ran away" by hiding in the attic. They were not discovered because everyone was afraid to go up there. Cassy stole some money to pay for a boat fare later. When Legree couldn't find his slaves, he asked Tom to report their whereabouts. When he refused, Legree beat Tom and had Sambo and Quimbo whip Tom. As a result of Tom’s testimony during his severe punishment, Sambo and Quimbo were saved. Back in Kentucky, Mr. Shelby died, leaving his estate in the care of his wife. She and Young Master George Shelby paid off their debts and gathered funds to free Uncle Tom. George found Tom by an extensive and difficult search. He came to buy him from Legree but Tom died from his lashes. Tom, like Legree's mother, forgave his cruel master before his death. George buried Tom in a little spot by the road. Cassy played tricks on Legree at night. She came into his bedroom and left like a ghost. Then she and Emmeline escaped and took a boat to Canada. She became acquainted with George Shelby and Madame de Thoux, who was George's sister. She found out that Madame de Thoux's brother was married to her daughter. Stowe's humor came into play again when Cassy fainted and, "they made all the tumult which is proper in such cases; - George upsetting a wash-pitcher, and breaking two tumblers, in the warmth of his humanity; and various ladies in the cabin... crowded the state-room door, and kept out all the air they possibly could, so that, on the whole, everything was done that could be expected (601-602)." Cassy, Madame de Thoux, and Emmeline visited the same mission that George and Eliza had gone to when they first entered Canada. Things were arranged and the family got back together again. Harry was much older and had a little sister, little Eliza. The family moved to France where George got an education and Emmeline got married. Then they all, minus the newly married couple, moved to Africa. Miss Ophelia raised and freed Topsy in Vermont. Topsy was baptized and sent out as a missionary to Africa. A wonderful chapter with which to end the story. Though Chloe's heart broke when she heard of Tom's death, she knew that Jesus could help her. Stowe ended the story by freeing all of the Shelbys' slaves. The last chapter, while providing great support and background information for the book from a historical perspective, would have been better categorized as an appendix, rather than an extra chapter, to the story. Stowe remained in third person while giving her arguments for the authenticity of her book.

UTC - Chapters 29-36

Because their master had not made provisions for them for after his death, St. Clare's slaves were sold at an auction. Marie refused to give Tom his freedom, even though her late husband had promised it to the honest man. Rosa was sent to a whipping house for talking back to her mistress. A whipping house was the most shameful and degrading way of punishing slaves. Emmeline, a new character to the story, was sold with Tom and two other men to Mr. Legree. Emmeline's mother tried her hardest to present her daughter as plainly as possible and not flaunt her natural beauty, but the two were separated in the end. Legree made Tom give him all his clothes and other personal belongings. He threatened all his slaves with his unusually large fist. I imagine a situation akin to Legree's plantation when I think back to pre-Civil War times. Though his actions may not have been common, the kindness of Tom's previous owners was more rare. Legree seemed to amass wealth that never was spent on anything he needed. Shelby and St. Clare, however, spent money they didn't have on things they did not need. Several of the slaves were surprised that Tom had a Bible; some had never heard of it before. Tom helped two women to grind their corn and they helped to make his corn cake. His small deeds of kindness changed the hearts of the slaves on Legree's plantation. Cassy, Eliza's mother, appeared for the first time in chapter thirty-two but was not developed until chapter thirty-four. She was Legree's mistress until he bought Emmeline. Cassy had cast a sort of spell over Legree and his slaves. She had a glare that made even her hard master tremble. Legree made Sambo and Quimbo whip Tom for not whipping another slave when he was told to. Cassy told the story of her life to Tom while tending to his wounds. She had been happily married to a man but he refused to give her her freedom. Two of her children were sold into slavery but she killed the third one when he was only two weeks old. The heart of a mother so longs to protect her children that she will kill to save them from the horrors of the inevitable. Legree was very superstitious and horrified of insane persons such as Cassy. When Sambo gave him the lock of Eva's hair that Tom had kept, Legree was horrified. He remembered his mother, who gave him a lock of her hair and forgave him for the evils he had done. Wicked men are more afraid than others because they don't know if someone wants to get revenge on them. Cassy talked Emmeline out of trying to run away and talked Legree into leaving Tom alone for a while. Legree tried to make Tom "recant" but Tom stood true to his faith. Cassy rescued Tom from another certain beating by drawing on Legree's superstitions.

UTC - Chapters 18-28

Stowe shifted back to the southern setting. Miss Ophelia was greatly organized in her Vermont home, so when she saw the St. Clare house in such disarray, she immediately set to the task of cleaning up. The household cook was furious at Miss Ophelia's actions. She complained to St. Clare but he remained indifferent, as always, to the waste and deceit of his servants. Tom attempted to evangelize old Prue, but his efforts seemed to be in vain. After the death of Prue, Miss Ophelia and St. Clare had a long discussion on the ethics, or lack thereof, of slavery. St. Clare defined slavery as “my brother... is ignorant and weak, and I am intelligent and strong, - because I know how, and can do it, - therefore I may steal all he has, keep it, and give him only such and so much as suits my fancy... [My slave] shall do my will, and not his all the days of his mortal life, and have such chance of getting into heaven, at last, as I find convenient” (331). St. Clare admitted to wanting to do something to stop slavery but he was too lazy to. St. Clare bought a slave to assist Miss Ophelia. Miss Ophelia was given the chance to teach the child in whatever way seemed fit. Though several attempts were made, Topsy was a very unruly child and resisted all civility. She was a regular thief and took revenge on those that treated her wrongly, but hid behind kind St. Clare if she was in trouble. Chloe, Tom's wife, received a letter from him asking about when the money for his redemption would be sent. The Shelbys didn't have the resources to pay for him at that time, but Chloe asked to be hired out to a confectioner. She would make enough money in five or six years to earn back her husband. The Shelbys agreed to that arrangement, much to Chloe's delight. In chapter twenty-two, Eva began showing signs of illness. She became more frail than before but continued to act in the manner to which she was so accustomed. Eva began teaching Mammy to read, though Marie disapproved. Eva's cousin, Henrique, was very much like his father. He whipped servants and was severely unkind to them for the smallest mistakes and mishaps. Eva asked him not to be so harsh to the servants because he would frighten them into lying. St. Clare admitted to his brother his desire to act against slavery but was unsure of himself. His brother, Alfred, confronted him, "If I thought as you do, I should do something." Eva's health took a turn for the worse. In this time period, the doctors could not do much for those with TB, so she had to fight on her own. Marie finally took notice of her daughter's truly ill health but used it as an excuse for her own medical problems. Because she knows she is dying, Eva had a long talk with her father about her passing away and slavery. This chapter was extremely moving. Topsy has been very bad since she was brought to the St. Clares home. Finally, Eva was able to lead her playmate to Christ by showing her the love of the Savior for all people. Topsy promised to try to be good but knew she couldn't do it on her own. Topsy brought Eva a small bouquet of two flowers, one dark, one white, as a gift one morning. Perhaps it was a symbol of the friendship between the slave and her master. Eva gave all the slaves a lock of her curly hair by which to remember her. She died just after midnight. This chapter was the most touching of all. Stowe captured everything in the most expressive language. It was the most beautiful story of death that I have ever read. Eva was buried at the St. Clares' summer house. St. Clare was unaware of everything around him but was obsessed with sorrow over the loss of his precious child. Tom again tried to witness to his master and prayed for him, but seemed to be unsuccessful. Miss Ophelia tells Topsy that she can love the child just as much as her recently departed friend had. St. Clare spoke to Tom about giving the man his freedom. Tom was overjoyed but would stay as long as St. Clare needed him, until he became a Christian. St. Clare also gave Miss Ophelia legal possession of her pupil Topsy. Later that night, St. Clare was accidentally stabbed whilst trying to breakup a fight. The mortal wound reunited him with his mother and daughter.

UTC - Chapters 11-17

George Harris was light skinned like his wife and able to travel about the country under no suspicion. Acting like a man of Spanish descent, George obtained a room at a tavern for himself and another runaway slave. While there, his former employer and friend, Mr. Wilson, approached him. The two discussed George's plan for escape, though Mr. Wilson tried all he could to convince George not to run. Wilson agreed to give Eliza a pin for George, in case the husband never saw his wife again. Mr. Haley went to a slave auction and bought some more property to resell. In doing so, he separated a mother from her son. Later, he would part a mother from her infant child and drive the woman to suicide. Haley was indifferent and put her death under losses in his account book. Stowe used these plot points to soften the reader's heart toward the oppressed creatures. The Underground Railroad has been a subject of interest for several years. People would risk their own lives to assist slaves on their way to Canada. Stowe draws on the heroism of that system in chapter thirteen, when some Quakers took in Eliza and Harry. I enjoyed the scene in chapter fourteen that Stowe described with wit. After Tom rescued Eva St. Clare from the river, the ladies on the riverboat competed "as to who should do the most things to make a disturbance, and to hinder her recovery in every way possible (234)." Although the entire book was heartbreaking, Stowe occasionally gave the reader something to chuckle at. Mr. St. Clare, Eva's father, bought Tom from Haley as a playmate for Eva and as a coachman for his wife, Marie. Stowe formally introduced the reader to the St. Clare’s and Miss Ophelia in chapter fifteen. Mr. St. Clare was easy going and uninterested in anything that didn't involve his daughter. Marie St. Clare was extremely self-centered and pampered, but always complained of some ailment or another. Miss Ophelia, St. Clare’s cousin from Vermont, was an abolitionist and strict organizer. She came to New Orleans to assist Marie in her household duties. Marie complained to Miss Ophelia about the way St. Clare treated his servants. She believed they should be put down and made to know their place in society. Miss Ophelia couldn't understand how St. Clare could own servants and treat them the way he did. The St. Clares and Ophelia discussed slavery’s relevance to religion and church. In chapter seventeen, Stowe focused again on the Harris's. George, Eliza, Harry, and some friends set off for Canada but were forced to detour into a range of rocks by a band of pursuers headed by Tom Loker. George, however, was armed and shot Loker when he attempted to catch them. The rest of the whites ran away, though some attempted to help Loker. The fugitives took Loker to the home of a Quaker, where he was well taken care of.

UTC - Chapters 6-10

When slave trading Mr. Haley discovered his property had gone missing, he immediately tried to pursue it. However, Stowe added humor to the story through a predicament. With their mistress's prompting, two slaves, Sam and Andy, played tricks on Mr. Haley's horse. The delay allowed Eliza and Harry to get further away from his new master. Eliza, because she was a quadroon, appeared to be a lady out on business. She reached the Ohio River, but because of ice on the river, she was forced to stay in a tavern until a boat could get through. Mr. Haley was finally able to begin his search but was tricked by Sam and Andy into taking the wrong road. Mr. Haley eventually reached the tavern but Sam "accidentally" lost his hat, causing a ruckus that allowed Eliza and her son to quickly escape across the dangerous, icy river. In chapter eight, Stowe introduced two new characters, Loker and Marks, who agreed to search for Haley's lost property. Again, Stowe mirrored the character's personality in his appearance. Loker was large and sturdy with a seemingly unmovable heart. Marks was small and suspicious, like a mouse. Sam the slave recalled the events of Eliza's escape in an exaggerated fashion for the edification of the rest of Shelby's slaves. Stowe developed the Bird household to allow the reader to understand the characters but, because they only appeared in chapter nine, she didn't reveal too much detail. Stowe, in this chapter, began one of several "attacks" on the reader's heart. Tom attempted to calm his wife's fears to no avail. Haley carried off Uncle Tom and had some fetters altered to fit his new slave's legs. Young Master George Shelby talked with Tom and gave him a silver dollar, which hung around Tom's neck for most of his life. George also promised to buy Tom back as soon as was financially possible.

UTC - Chapters 1-5

Stowe began her publication with a thorough description of Mr. Haley. His mannerisms, speech, and personality were reflected in his appearance. Stowe gave her characters an amount of depth to aid the reader in categorizing the various personas within the book. Mr. Shelby was not given a detailed description here because Stowe chose to gradually develop his character. George and Eliza had been married after they met at a factory. They attempted to have children on several occasions but only Harry survived. Eliza became very attached to her only remaining child. This circumstance was common in pre-Civil War America. Slaves, according to their owners, were incapable of having emotions. Mr. Harris would not allow George to see his wife because she was owned by another man and he wanted George to remarry on his own plantation. Stowe brilliantly presented George's anger toward his master in his dialogue with Eliza. George decided to run away rather than be tempted to do something evil. Stowe described the cabin for which the book was named with small, inviting details. The reader first meets the main character of Uncle Tom in chapter four whilst he is learning to write. Stowe did not neglect to include a "meetin'," or a Bible study of sorts, in her book. Meetings were commonly held among slaves. Another husband and wife dialogue revealed Mrs. Shelby's abolitionist feelings. Eliza overheard their conversation about selling Tom and her son to pay off a debt owed to Mr. Haley, so she took Harry and ran away. Uncle Tom decided to stay to carry out Mr. Shelby's wishes and go with his new master.