Chapters 22-24: Summary and Analysis
Alfred St. Clare: Augustine St. Clare’s twin brother
Henrique: Alfred’s arrogant, twelve-year-old son
Dodo: Henrique’s thirteen-year-old servant
These chapters focus primarily on Eva and her influence on other characters. Two years pass, and Uncle Tom still looks forward to the day when he can return to his family on the Shelby plantation. When the summer arrives, the entire St. Clare household moves to a villa near Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Tom and Eva have become even closer friends than before, and as they sit by the lake, Eva has a vision of heaven. She prophesies her own early death, pointing to the sky and declaring: “I’m going there…to the spirits bright.” Sometime previously, both Tom and Miss Ophelia had noticed Eva’s weakening condition. When Ophelia tries to tell St. Clare that his daughter is becoming seriously ill, he ignores her warnings out of the fear of losing Eva.
As Eva watches Topsy and the other slave children play, she inquires of her mother why they do not teach the servants to read. Marie St. Clare thinks that Eva asks peculiar questions, answering that servants were made to work and nothing else. Eva desires to set up a school in the North some day and teach blacks to read and write, as well as provide them with religious instruction. Marie only laughs at her daughter’s dreams.
Augustine’s twin brother, Alfred, along with his son, Henrique, join the St. Clare group at the summer villa. Henrique, a “noble, dark-eyed, princely boy, full of vivacity and spirit,” plans to go riding with Eva. When Dodo, his servant, brings out Henrique’s horse, the St. Clare boy chastises him for not brushing the animal. Dodo attempts to explain that the horse had gotten itself dirty shortly after being cleaned, but Henrique becomes enraged and strikes him. Uncle Tom verifies Dodo’s story, and Eva cautions Henrique: “You frighten him into deceiving, if you treat him so.” Henrique tosses his servant a coin to quash his own guilt, but Eva kindly talks to Dodo, treating him as a human being. Eva then makes Henrique promise her that he will act more humanely toward Dodo, telling her cousin to even love his rvant.
Augustine and Alfred St. Clare observe the incident and discuss Henrique’s character. Augustine wryly notes that Henrique is a natural aristocrat who considers his fellow humans with contempt. Alfred realizes his son’s temperament, but defends Henrique’s actions, stating: “It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who ought to have equal rights.” The “greasy masses,” he continues, deserve no such rights. Augustine responds by pointing to the examples of the American and French Revolutions, from which the rhetoric of liberty and equality had emerged.
After Alfred and Henrique depart, Eva’s health worsens. Marie begins to show some maternal concern for her daughter, but only when Miss Ophelia brings Eva’s condition to her attention. Eva later tells Tom that she would gladly die for the happiness of the servants, knowing how they suffer. She also makes St. Clare promise to free Tom after she dies.
In each of these three chapters, Eva asserts her loving, spiritual influence on several of the characters. The author states that Eva’s “whole heart and soul seemed absorbed in works of love and kindness.” Because of Uncle Tom’s feelings for her, his exile from his family is less miserable for him. When Eva foreshadows her own death as she views the light reflected off the lake’s surface, Tom never doubts her. He “loved her as something frail and earthly, yet almost worshipped her as something heavenly and divine.”
St. Clare preoccupies himself more with material than spiritual concerns and denies Eva’s decline in health. Since Eva is the one person whom he adores the most, he cannot absorb the fact that she is dying. Eva tells him that she is going to heaven, and St. Clare thinks back to his own boyhood when his own...
(The entire section is 1,143 words.)