Chapters 25-27: Summary and Analysis
These chapters continue with a focus on Eva and her influence on the St. Clare household, especially on Topsy. In Chapter 25, Miss Ophelia discovers that one of her bonnets has been destroyed by Topsy. When St. Clare questions Topsy about her mischief, she answers: “Spects it’s my wicked heart.” Ophelia decides that she can no longer tolerate Topsy’s antics and wants to give up on her. St. Clare forces Ophelia to reconsider, however, when he again raises the issue of her supposed Christian endurance.
Eva draws Topsy aside to find out why the servant girl misbehaves. Topsy repeats her history of having no family and no one to love her. She also knows that Ophelia personally dislikes her, saying: “No; she can’t bar me, ‘cause I’m a nigger!—she’d soon have a toad touch her!” Eva declares that she loves Topsy and encourages her to be good for Eva’s sake. Eva then tells Topsy about Christ’s love for everyone.
In Chapter 26, Eva weakens more and is confined to her bedroom. Topsy brings her flowers, although she is first stopped from doing so by Marie St. Clare. Eva explains to her mother that Topsy is trying to behave and overcome her brutal past. Eva then requests that some of her own hair be cut so that she can distribute the locks to everyone. Calling the whole household into her room, Eva dispenses her locks and reminds everbody of their Christian duties. After most have left, Eva asks her father if he believes in the Christian faith. Despite his own humanity toward others, St. Clare replies that he is unsure of his own salvation. Eva then passes away amid her grieving family.
In Chapter 27, Topsy mourns over Eva’s death, crying “O, Miss Eva!…I wish I’s dead, too.” Her grief is particularly great. With Eva’s passing, Topsy feels that no one will love her. Moved herself by Eva’s death, Miss Ophelia reassures Topsy: “I can love you; I do, and I’ll try to help you to grow up a good Christian girl.”
After the household returns from Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans, St. Clare questions Uncle Tom about his faith. St. Clare admits that he still has trouble believing in Christianity. Tom responds that he feels the Lord in his soul and prays for his master.
When Ophelia is at her wits’ end regarding Topsy, Eva once again intervenes with her Christian love and patience. She transforms how both Topsy and Ophelia feel toward one another. As in Chapter 23, when Eva advises her cousin Henrique to love and care for his servant Dodo, here she pleads with Topsy to behave. Topsy realizes what Ophelia thinks of her, and Ophelia even admits: “I’ve always had a prejudice against negroes…and it’s a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me.” When Eva expresses her love for Topsy, the servant girl who had known nothing but hatred and brutality accepts that love.
The theme of the Christ-like figure appears when St. Clare jokingly upbraids his cousin for her impatience and unchristian attitude toward Topsy. Ophelia points to Eva’s self-sacrificing, devout character, referring to St. Clare’s daughter as “no more than Christ-like.” Through this statement, Ophelia in a way realizes her own shortcomings as a Christian by admitting to Eva’s perfect Christian love for people no matter how they have sinned. But Eva’s example prods Ophelia to become more loving toward Topsy, fulfilling Christ’s yearning for his followers to show unconditional love for one another.
When Eva nears death, she shares some final thoughts with everyone. By urging her family and servants to keep leading Christian lives, she wishes that they would continue to care for one another according...
(The entire section is 962 words.)