It is said that some stories are meant to be told in their day. Stories that transcend the commonplace customs of the day and shake things up. Stories that change the indifferent stupor of people who turn a blind eye into a genuine concern for others. Uncle Tom's Cabin is exactly that book. A tale of the oppressors and the oppressed. A tale of good people who treated their slaves well, a tale of cruel people who beat their slaves, and a tale of everybody who was indifferent to their plight and who rationalized, 'Everyone buys and sells slaves'. A tale that sparked off a revolution.
Mrs Stowe evokes a deep pathos in the reader for the protagonist Tom and his fellow slaves. Tom's master sells him to pay off his debts. He gets another kind master and finally a brutal one. The horrors of the day are dramatically included in the story. A mother pleading to a new owner to buy her daughter so that they could be together. People ignoring the wails of their separation mentioning that 'Niggers dont feel much as we do.' Daughters that are traded off to despotic owners so that they can fulfill their private passions. A mother killing her newborn son so that he doesn't have to live a life suffering tyranny & brutality.
And through all this our good natured, simple and pious Tom clutches the Bible and repeats the word of the Lord to one and all. He undergoes through all the trials and tribulations with never a bad word to anyone. Whether its good times or bad, the words of the Lord are always on his lips. No suffering is too much for him for he always believes that his deliverance is on hand.
History repeats itself and its no coincidence that oppressions and injustice happen time and again. This book has a striking resemblance to the horrors of the Holocaust as described in 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor Frankl. More significant is the fact that Tom once says,'You can take my body, but not my soul' which is one of the cornerstone learnings of the latter book. You can take away a man's possessions, his family, his freedom and subject him to the most inhuman cruelties, but you cannot take away what he thinks and how he responds in any situation. The mind is always free. It cannot be shackled down.
Final thoughts: Harriet Beecher Stowe should be commended for writing such a bold book in her times. Salute to this brave lady who must have faced numerous obstacles while trying to research, write and complete this book and made it available for everyone to read, and more importantly dwell upon.