Chapter 37: Summary and Analysis
Aunt Dorcas: Quaker woman who nurses Tom Loker
Mrs. Smyth: Quaker woman who helps the Harris family escape to Canada
Chapter 37 returns to the Harris family in Ohio. After turning away the slave catchers, they journey to another Quaker settlement and bring the wounded Tom Loker with them. Aunt Dorcas, a “tall, dignified, spiritual woman,” nurses Tom Loker, who for three weeks is bedridden from his wounds and a fever. Although he grunts and curses, Aunt Dorcas patiently reminds him to watch his language. To show his appreciation for the Quakers’ hospitality, Tom warns them that his slave catching companions are waiting for the Harrises at Sandusky, a northern Ohio town from which the Harrises plan on departing across Lake Erie to Canada. Jim, the slave with whom George escaped, goes a different way with his mother.
George and Eliza Harris take precautions for their escape by disguising themselves and Harry. Eliza cuts her hair to appear as a man, while Harry is clothed as a little girl. Mrs. Smyth, a Quaker woman from Canada, will go with them, posing as Harry’s aunt. Through this ruse, they all hope to evade the slave catchers’ attention. George, however, voices his doubts and fears about the potential failure of the plan. Eliza calms him through her own religious faith.
The party travels to the docks at Sandusky and remains undetected by Marks, Tom Loker’s one-time companion. The Harris family then ride across Lake Erie and safely reach Canada.
After the previous chapters’ focus on Uncle Tom, this chapter details Tom Loker’s character transformation and the Harris family’s successful escape to Canada. The hospitality of the Quakers affects the health and soul of Tom Loker. Once a harsh and uncaring slave catcher, he learns from his experience of being left by Marks and his other companions. A “somewhat sadder and wiser man,” Tom Loker becomes a member in the Quaker settlement, earning his living as a hunter of animals rather than fugitive slaves. The Quakers’ nursing of Tom Loker reflects their consistency of doing good for all, a repetition of Simeon Halliday’s earlier actions for the Harris family. The Hallidays would show goodwill to the slave and slave catcher alike if either were in danger.
When preparing for the final plans of their escape, the Harrises display a different range of emotions. Eliza is happy that she is with her husband and child, playfully taking part in making the disguises. She is also grateful for the Quakers’ aid and hospitality. George is more sulky and...
(The entire section is 662 words.)