Symbolic Meanings in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
If you did not read Uncle`s Tom Cabin, written by Harrier Beecher Stowe, you are to fill out this gap in your literature education just immediately. In the XIX century, it was the most popular novel of the 1850s in the USA and the UK too. This antislavery work was highly estimated by millions of readers all around the world. The author of it, small and slim Mrs.Stowe, who fought heroically for the rights of African Americans all her life long, was deeply respected by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the USA. They say, that at one official ceremony, he proudly proclaimed that it was the antislavery book of Harrier B.Stowe that started the Civil War in the United States for human rights, for democratic values, and for the dignity of all people inhabiting the USA so far.
If you want to know all plot collisions of this milestone work, I think that it is better to read it, though it is more than 700 pages long. And if you are just a bit lazy, several film adaptations are waiting for you. The most recent 1987 film version directed by Stan Lathan is, obviously, the best one. But the book is better, just only while reading it, you could feel all the sufferings of the main characters of this novel, such African American slaves, as Uncle Tom, Eliza, Topsy and others so far.
This book brings a lot of powerful symbols, which are difficult not to notice. Eva`s hair is one of them. While cutting her beautiful golden hair and distributing it among slaves, she made a noble step full of hidden symbolism, she refused from her inner sexuality and underlined the idea of Christian fraternity between her and her African American friends.
Uncle`s Tom Cabin
Uncle`s Tom Cabin is a key novel`s symbol as it is mentioned in the title of the book. The household of Tom and Chloe, in spite of their terrible life of the XIX century slaves, turns out to be very clean and brought the feeling of Christian holiness and domestic austerity. Even in our time, it could serve as an example of a hard working and a highly religious family.
Without any doubt, Eliza`s leap belongs to the central symbols of the novel. While jumping across the Ohio River, full of unexpected and dangerous ice cracks and fractures, while cutting her legs with sharp edges of ice floes. she carries her body from the world of slavery into the world of freedom. Her life got a clear line, dividing her life in Before and After. The frontier between the North and the South was the question of death and life for millions of slaves working on the vast territories of American prairies.
Topsy`s flowers present an important symbol too. In spite of all her suffering and the hardships of her distorted life, her cabin, in particular, and all her life, as a whole, is completely covered with flowers. Different flowers, roses, and bignonia, geranium and japonica, red and white, yellow, and scarlet…What does it mean? It means that in her rude and ugly body there was an artistic and noble soul. She could not forgive her torturers the bloody tears of her life, but on Eva`s deathbed, she made an exception. The brought just only two flowers, but they were the most beautiful and the most symbolic, she put them on the death bed of Eva.
The North and the South
The symbols of the North and the South are depicted by Stowe in a very hidden and deranged way so far. Life is not a straightforward way. It could not be painted in just two contrasting colors so far. Her life got a clear line, dividing her life in Before and Afte Life always has a smorgasbord of various tints and shadows. In such a way the cross-cultural differences between the people of these two parts of the USA were depicted by a true master of XIX century fiction Harrier Beecher Stowe. On the one hand, Northerners were against the slavery, on the other hand, they got the profit from it. Southerners were not the same too. Among them, there were malicious misanthropes, as well as sincere and even saint people. Life is not a straightforward way.