Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Uncle Tom's Cabin review

My 9th grader is studying American History. As preparation for her unit on the Civil War time peiod, I decided to read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beechee Stowe before she does. I was not sure what to expect, but what it gave me was immeasurable. 

For those who do not know, Harriet Beecher Stowe was asked by an Abolistionist magazine to write a story series concerning slavery;  Uncle Tom's Cabin became that series in book form. I am not able to presume what people then may have thought of the story; I can only speak for my take on it, and I say it is one of the best books I ever read. 

I was asked why I liked the book so much by our librarian last week. I told her "it is all about  forgiveness!" The story is about what it means to be Christian, to be forgiving, and being responsible. The comparison of Tom to what Christ modeled and taught as the characteristics of the blessed is hinted throughout the whole book. From the first chapter to the last, the author does an honest job in presenting not only slavery in the south, but slavery to sin and slavery to our own ways. It is an interesting book to read during Lent, no doubt. It will not only shed light on real historical events and human miseries, but also will call you to self-examination.

Sadly, I can see why the book is not read in most schools. The use of the N-word may be one reason, but in reality I think it is because it is a book about God, Christianity, sacrifice, and forgiveness. The author calls us out of our complacency over injustice and challenges the Christian, in particular, to do "what one man can" to right wrongs. These are topics the schools avoid. But we need not avoid it in our homes. 

In a day in age when public libraries are removing classics from the shelves because they are not borrowed often enough, I ask mothers to read and share this book with their older children...and all th classics! How else will they learn these great truths if all they read are easy texts that do not call the human spirit to rise up to the heights, that do not have characters that struggle and overcome? How will they learn if we hide it from them? How will we learn if we hide truth from ourselves?

The character, Tom, taught the reader that the greater evil is the loss of the soul. And the author asks the reader, what do you need to do to change to be Christ-like? We have so many evils in our world today, so many. Do we gloss over them? Ignore? To paraphrase the author when beginning the chapter about slave warehouses: man has a way of making evil look good so as not to upset the "respectable people." How awful! But are we not in the same position today? 

So what are we to? The author wisely tells the reader then, and now: you can pray! Pray to not fall into tempation and not be put to the test, says Christ. Praise God for the many who do not allow evil to steal away their faith, they are what we call martyrs. Will we? Will our children?

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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