Why The Novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin Is A Racist Text

May 18, 2022 by Essay Writer

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a world-renowned novel that has changed how the world perceived slavery. This text was considered to be the first best-selling work as it was said to have outsold the bible when it first was published. It was even alleged to be the leading event to the American civil war as Benjamin Franklin said to Stowe in their first meeting. But as well as it being quite infamous, it has also caused a great deal of controversy. Furthermore, the writer was accused of misdescribing slaves throughout the novel as a weak, defenseless, and submissive people with insensible sympathy towards their masters and that their ambitions surround white people and stop there, as if the world beyond the plantations, where they worked, was non-existent. This text is racist due to the way racial stereotypes were created by Stowe, as well as her portrait of African American slaves as people whose aspirations were limited to pleasing the Caucasian race and only that, and that they took great pride in serving them like it was the sole purpose of their being, the second reason for it to be a racist text is how in the midst of the story, a certain meeting took place and Stowe described two girls, a white and a slave, of the same age very discriminatorily.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a racist text for many reasons. The first one has to be the racial stereotype that Stowe endowed in the text. She drew an extremely frail picture of African Americans at that time. As Arthur Riss claimed that “critics cited Stowe’s obvious use of racial stereotypes condemned her as a racist and declared that Stowe’s belief in inherent racial characteristics is tainted, perhaps even wholly negated” (Riss,1994). Riss also stated that “the sincerity and the value of Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s manifest antislavery politics. In probably the most scathing attack on the novel’s racial stereotypes, J.C Furnas in Goodbye to Uncle Tom argues that Uncle Tom’s Cabin is intrinsically “racist propaganda” and that their effect “strengthens racist ideas” Here, Riss explains how he believes that this text has congested modern goodwill and that it influenced a lot of the delusions surrounding African Americans that still haunt us today. This work is filled with bigoted ideologies such as the slaves being completely obedient to their masters even when it meant physical and emotional abuse to them, like when Tom got a lashing in chapter 36, instead of being angry or upset, he took it with tolerance and seemed unbothered by it; instead of seeking revenge, he saw it as a quicker way to get to heaven. According to Stowe, this was his reaction,

Mas’r Legree (sic), as ye bought me, I’ll be a true and faithful servant to ye. I’ll give ye all the work of my hands, all my time, all my strength; but my soul I won’t give up to mortal man (sic). I will hold on to the Lord, and put his commands before all, – die or live; you may be sure on ‘t. Mas’r Legree(sic), I ain’t (sic) a grain afeard to die. I’d as soon die as not. Ye may whip me, starve me, burn me, – it’ll only send me sooner where I want to go. (Stowe,1852).

He did not show a single grain of resistance nor rebellion towards his master, not throughout his torture and not even afterward. Moreover, the slaves in the story are very much helpless, as their only savior in this work is God. In one particular part, when Tom was conversing with the wealthy woman, he stated, ‘Well, then, I will die!’ said Tom. ‘Spin it out as long as they can, they can’t help my dying, some time! – and, after that, they can’t do no more. I’m clar (sic), I’m set! I know the Lord’ll(sic) help me, and bring me through.” Their only reliance was on religious beliefs, and their despair was evident in that statement where he stated that the only salvation he’ll get is when he dies, which lets on a lot of misery.

Another prominent reason why Uncle Tom’s Cabin is considered to be a racist text is that when St. Clare brought in Topsy, a nine-year-old slave was brought into Ophelia’s house, who had a daughter of the same age, she was described as an almost demonic creature. The horrid description went on like so,

Her woolly hair was braided in sundry little tails, which stuck out in every direction. The expression of her face was an odd mixture of shrewdness and cunning, over which was oddly drawn, like a kind of veil, an expression of the most doleful gravity and solemnity. She was dressed in a single filthy, ragged garment, made of bagging; and stood with her hands demurely folded before her. Altogether, there was something odd and goblin-like about her appearance, – something, as Miss Ophelia afterwards (sic) said, ‘so heathenish. (Stowe,1852).

An innocent child was described as a heathen, goblin-like, devilish being. On other occasions she was also name-called by Mr. St Clare, “Come here, Topsy, you monkey,’ said Mr. St. Clare.”. But the biggest distinction between Topsy and Eva showed just how racist this novel is because it goes on to display just how different they are as a result of slavery and racism,

There stood the two children representatives of the two extremes of society. The fair, high-bred child, with her golden head, her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and prince-like movements; and her black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor. They stood the representatives of their races. The Saxon, born of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral eminence; the Afric (sic), born of ages of oppression, submission, ignorance, toil ,and vice!

As shown in the previous quote, the white child is considered a superior, she is named beautiful “high-bred” just because of her skin color, and Caucasian features, when the black child is seen as a mark of oppression, dehumanization, and subordinance.

To conclude, this text is provocative because of the typecasts made up by Stowe. Furthermore, her interpretation of enslaved African Americans is extremely ill and misconducted. She also limits their minds by ridiculing their purpose in life and making them lesser than. The differentiation between the two races is very much clear, and the pro-slavery mindset is reflected throughout the story in many encounters. And for those reasons, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is in fact, a racist text.

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