Harriet Beecher Stowe Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Harriet Beecher Stowe Why and how did people think Harriet Beeceher Stowe was racist?

Expert Answers info

Robert C. Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,994 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Some readers of Uncle Tom's Cabin wish that its title character were more assertive, more active, and more resistant to the racism and oppression from which he suffers. Partly because he isn't, the term "uncle Tom" has become a term of insult when used to describe an African American.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

larrygates eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,856 answers

starTop subjects are History, Law and Politics, and Social Sciences

Harriet Beecher Stowe was/is considered racist because she was indeed racist, as were most abolitionists of her day. If one reads Uncle Tom's Cabin, one will notice that she seldom speaks of black people as a man, woman, or child, but rather as a "negress," "quadroon," or even "octaroon." She refers to their habits as being typical of their "kind," a hardly respectable image. She never decries the denial of human rights, simply the cruelty inflicted upon slaves; a pity that seems almost reserved for animals. Finally, her concept of a happy ending is that George and Eliza plus their child live happily ever after in Liberia, a nation founded by the American Colonization Society where liberated slaves were to be sent. Stowe, like others of her day, opposed the cruelty of the institution of slavery, but never considered the acceptance of blacks as equal with white society. Once they were freed, they were to be sent back to the land of their origin, even though almost all at this point had been born in America. This seems to pretty racist.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial