In Uncle Tom's Cabin, how is the novel an example of American slavery and freedom, focusing on Tom, himself?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The subtitle of Stowe's work as, "Life Among the Lowly" might help to bring out how the book depicts a life of enslavement and its pursuit of freedom.  Stowe's depiction of Tom is one in which there is a spiritual dynamic at work.  The slave is more morally righteous than those who are in the position of power.  This significance cannot be lost on the reader.  Stowe's depiction helps to show how American slavery is a dehumanizing experience for both those who are enslaved and those who might profess to be free, but are actually morally enslaved.  When Legree wishes to control Tom, he is reminded of this when Tom argues that he is more spiritually free than Legree could ever be.  The religious faith that Tom demonstrates is something that is even more astonishing given the cruelties and horrors he is forced to witness and endure.  In this light, Stowe is making a direct statement about those who sincerely and authentically believe in the power of the divine redemption.  For these individuals, slavery is something that must be stopped for it is a tool to deny one's own spiritual fulfillment.  The slave owners who kill Tom are morally impure and ones who require Tom's benevolence, even when his blood is shed from their hands. In this light, freedom is as much moral as it is political.  The issue of slavery becomes similar in that it corrupts all that are touched by it.  Tom's journey reveals how powerful and redemptive a spiritual identity can be when political freedoms are being denied.

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