“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Part 1

For this part of Stowe’s novel, I’m focusing on Eliza’s runaway with her son Harry.

This seemed to fit the circumstances.

In these readings, there were several moments where I was reminded of The Scarlet Letter (besides the branded H on Eliza’s husband). When Eliza first runs away with Harry, she appears to suddenly have this supernatural feeling that takes over her.

“‘Yes, sure!’ said the mother, in a voice that startled herself; for it seemed to her to come from some spirit within, that was no part of her; and the boy dropped his little weary head on her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the touch of those warm arms, the gentle breathings that came in her neck, seemed to add fire and spirit to her movements!”

Hester had occasionally felt that there was something mysterious inside her, and the fact that Eliza and her son are seen as outcasts is just another similarity to Hester and Pearl. This supernatural feeling allows Eliza to carry on her run and not have to worry about his weight slowing her down. This spirit inside of Eliza could also be something like adrenaline or motherly instincts, but the fact that it’s described as a “spirit within” makes it hard not to imagine it’s the same kind of fantastical feel that was present in The Scarlet Letter. 

It’s also interesting that though Harry is at the age where he could technically be walking along side his mother, Eliza insists on carrying him so that there is no chance that they can be separated. She holds him to her bosom, which again reminded me of Hester and Pearl. There isn’t much mention of a father until a little bit further into the story either.

There’s also a moment where Harry questions Eliza as if he isn’t sure about her judgment. When Eliza tells him that she won’t let him go, Harry asks, “You’re sure, an’t you, mother?” This goes to show the fear they were both forced to live in because of their situation as slaves.

Later, Haley, their pursuer, sees Eliza jump the bank and says,

“‘The gal’s got seven devils in her, I believe!’ said Haley. ‘How like a wildcat she jumped!'”

Haley may have been referring to Eliza when he said this, but the mention of the devil was one more similarity to Hester and Pearl. Pearl was continuously called the “demon child” and other negative names. Not the same is happening to Eliza.

At this point, Haley is the main antagonist of the story, chasing Eliza and Harry and imposing fear into their lives. Earlier, he and Shelby were discussing what it is to be inhumane, and I think Haley is representative of the more inhumane slave owners. He doesn’t mind saying that Eliza holds seven devils, and he doesn’t mind ripping her away from her son. He sees slaves not as human, but as business deals. He cares enough to go after Eliza and Harry even after they’ve fled far away from their master.

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