David S. Reynolds spends a great deal of time detailing Stowe’s personal history. What was her personal background and why did it matter in the context of the time? How was she influenced by...

David S. Reynolds spends a great deal of time detailing Stowe’s personal history. What was her personal background and why did it matter in the context of the time? How was she influenced by religion and the reform movements of the 19th century?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reynolds concludes that Stowe's personal background fed into the social context in which Uncle Tom's Cabin was written.

Reynolds' work concludes that Stowe's personal background played a vital role in her composition of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Her life in Cincinnati enabled her to interact with people of color.  Stowe learned of slavery's impact through hearing the narratives of those who experienced it.  Reynolds points out that Stowe "loved spending time in the kitchen with servants like the African-­American Zillah.”  As Stowe interacted with people of color, it was evident that she learned of their experiences, narratives that found their way into the writing of her book. 

Stowe was also a product of her time.  Reynolds suggests that Stowe was keenly aware of the emerging debate regarding slavery in pre–Civil War America.  As Stowe moved to Maine, she was paying attention to Congressional actions in 1850 that focused on issues such as fugitives, popular sovereignty, and the future of the slavery in America.  Her position on the issue was evident when she wrote to a magazine editor that “the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak.” Stowe's passionate defense of freedom is a result of her own religious upbringing as well as her embrace of the contexts in which she lived.  She did not shy away from abolition and its defense of human rights, but hugged it tightly as she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question