What did the short, broad, muscular man do to Tom?

In chapter 30 of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the short, broad, muscular man approaches Tom, examines him like an animal, questions him brusquely, and then passes on.

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In chapter 30 of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a short, broad, muscular man approaches Tom in the slave warehouse. He treats Tom just like an animal he is thinking of buying, first seizing him by the jaw and inspecting his teeth, then examining the muscles of his arm, and finally making him "jump and spring, to show his paces."

The man then questions Tom, asking where he was raised and what work he has done. When Tom replies that he looked after his master's farm, the man says this is a "likely story" and moves on, first to Dolph, then to Susan and Emmeline, meting out the same rough treatment to them. The sale then begins.

Tom is horrified by the very appearance of the man, and the author invites the reader to reflect on how few people they would be prepared to accept as a master. The author and the reader together appraise those who are buying the slaves and find them severely wanting, as Tom does himself. However, within the context of the narrative, it is these poor specimens of humanity who are doing the appraising. The contemptuous way in which this nameless man, who we later learn is Simon Legree, treats Tom adds insult to injury.

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