Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 13: Summary and Analysis

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Chapter 13: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Simeon and Rachel Halliday: a Quaker couple who aid the Harris family

Ruth Stedman: a Quaker friend of the Hallidays’

Summary
Eliza and Harry rest at the Quaker home of Simeon and Rachel Halliday, having been directed there by Van Trompe. A neighbor in the Quaker settlement, Ruth Stedman, visits the Hallidays and chats about the happenings in their community. Later, Simeon arrives with news that several other Quakers are bringing fugitives to the settlement, one of whom is Eliza’s husband, George Harris. Eliza faints when she receives this information, waking later to find George at her bedside. The next day, the Quakers help the Harrises make plans to escape to Canada.

Analysis
Simeon and Rachel Halliday, as well as their friend Ruth Stedman, live by the Christian principle of doing good for others. Experienced in helping fugitives, the Quakers take in Eliza and her child and attempt to calm her fears. The Quakers do not judge or condemn anyone’s character or motives. Simeon even says: “I would do...the same for the slave holder as for the slave, if the Lord brought him to my door in affliction.” Clearly, the Hallidays side with the plight of the Harrises, but the Quakers’ beliefs hold them to treat all with love and respect.

At first, Eliza and George feel uncomfortable in this environment. As escaped slaves, they are used to more uncertain and frightful times. George initially feels “constraint and awkwardness” when he sits at the Hallidays’ breakfast table, never before having “sat down on equal terms at a white man’s table.” The Harrises, however, begin to feel at home with the Quakers, and are grateful for their kindness.

The author sets the mood of warmth and security in the Hallidays’ home, writing that it possesses “an atmosphere of mutual confidence and good fellowship everywhere.” She also highlights the theme of family and religion. The Quaker settlement, in which the Harris family reunites, characterizes the ideal blend of communal harmony and spirituality wherein each member of the family and the whole community treat one another with respect according to Christian morals.

Stowe uses a metaphor to describe Eliza, who has “grown under the discipline of heavy sorrow.” To comfort Eliza, Rachel Halliday talks in Quaker dialect, saying: “Thee knows thee can stay here, as long as thee pleases.”