What is Stowe's purpose in the characterization of Augustine St. Clare?

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

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To a large extent, characters like Augustine St. Clare represent the target audience of Stowe.  A committed abolitionist, Stowe understands that her political objective of a world without slavery can only happen if the conscience of White Americans is raised to a level that can condemn slavery.  It will rest in the "silent majority" to actually speak out against slavery.  Stowe recognizes this, so in Augustine St. Clare is an embodiment of a relatively decent White American.  Augustine is a humanist, one whose secular viewpoint makes the argument against slavery.  In constructing him in this manner, it confirms that Stowe is reaching across religious traditions and belief systems to develop a common belief that slavery has to end.  Her construction of Augustine as a secular humanist, one whose idealism and hope enables him to reject Tom's life as a slave and propose his emancipation is meant to galvanize similar White Americans into action against slavery.  Stowe realizes that people who resemble characters such as Simon Legree and Alfred St. Clare are probably not going to be reached.  Yet, she believes that there are enough Whites who are like Augustine who can be reached and through them, she believes, her political agenda can be achieved.


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