In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Augustine St. Clare poses that slavery is worse for the master than the slave. What is the logic and reasoning behind this?

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

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Consistent with Augustine's reasoning as a humanist, he argues that slavery imposes a dehumanizing effect on the slaveholder.  He makes the argument that one of the worst impacts of slavery is that it makes the master embrace the degradation of one human being at the hands of another as part of normal life.  It fails to make any distinction between how one human being should not control another.  Its banality is what makes the slaveowner accept it as part of daily life.  The ease with which the slaveowner becomes accustomed to slavery is where Augustine St. Clare's point is most effective.  This ease with which one becomes accustomed to not doing the right thing is applicable to his own life, one he has described as a "a contemptible non sequitur."  It is here where Augustine's rationale and logic behind why the slaveowner's experience with slavery might be a bit worse is understandable.  There is a constant battle within the slaveowner between activating their freedom towards doing the right thing and the social norms indicating what the acceptable thing to do is.  This tension and agony is where the slaveowner might experience something worse than the slave, who is fairly singular in his own condition.  It is here where Augustine's logic can be understood.


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