How does Stowe present slavery as incompatible with Christian ethics in Uncle Tom's Cabin?

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Stowe shows the incompatibility of slavery with Christian love and tolerance by showing the unloving behavior of slave owners, particularly in their treatment of slaves, and also by depicting how dehumanizing a person or group makes it harder to treat them with love. As you can see, this is a very different question than the previous one. It isn't about what Stowe's novel is saying but rather about what she is really saying. In other words, we're not trying to figure out what "Uncle Tom's Cabin" says (that would be the novel's message), but rather what Stowa is really saying through her novel (which could be something quite different).

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One of the ironies that runs throughout the novel is that although slave owners often use the Bible to justify slavery, in practice the institution is completely at odds with Christian love and tolerance.

For example, Christian love requires putting the needs of others ahead of one's own desires, but the slave owners routinely put themselves first, sometimes in ways that have horrifying consequences. For example, because the "good" slave owner, Mr. Shelby, doesn't want to tighten his belt, so to speak, and give up his pleasures after falling into debt (even though his wife begs him to), he instead sells two slaves. One of these is a four-year-old being sold away from his mother. Another is Uncle Tom, who is separated from his wife and children despite all his faithful service to Mr. Shelby over the years.

When Tom is sold to Augustine St. Clare and goes to his summer home with him, we witness a young boy, Augustine's nephew, hit his slave of about the same age with a whip for "insolence." This is hardly tolerant or loving behavior, and Stowe's point is that slavery is by its nature brutalizing.

When Tom ends up at Simon Legree's plantation, Legree deliberately tries to brutalize him. He wants Tom to beat and victimize the other slaves. In the end, the enraged Legree beats Tom to death for insisting on treating the other slaves with kindness. This unloving, intolerant behavior is allowed because of the belief that a rational person wouldn't kill such a valuable investment as a slave. Stowe shows, however, that it is possible and even profitable for particularly brutal owners to get away with working or beating slaves to death and then replacing them on a continuing basis.

Stowe shows that from the best slave situations to the worst, labeling one group of humans a commodity that can be bought or sold like a chair or a table dehumanizes that group. Once a group is dehumanized, it is harder for a society to treat them with Christian love and toleration.

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Intriguing question! In the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stowe utilizes several different techniques to illustrate the incompatibility of slavery with the Christian ethics of love and tolerance. For example, she utilizes the characters in the story and a direct address to her audience to illustrate this incompatibility.

Beginning with the characters in the story, Stowe utilizes multiple characters to demonstrate that slavery and Christianity’s ethics of love and tolerance are not compatible. For example, this is clearly seen in chapter nine. In this chapter, Senator Bird and Mrs. Bird discuss the issue of runaway slaves. Senator Bird illustrates that according to the law, people should not help runaway slaves. However, Mrs. Bird reveals that a Christian could not agree to such a law because the Bible illustrates that:

“I must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean to follow."

Thus, she would not listen to the law because of her convictions from the Bible.

Furthermore, Stowe also uses a personal and direct address to her audience (at the end of the book) to illustrate that slavery and Christian ethics of love and tolerance are not compatible. For example, Stowe illustrates her shock that Christians could agree with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. As Stowe herself states:

"But, since the legislative act of 1850, when she [Stowe] heard, with perfect surprise and consternation, Christian and humane people actually recommending the remanding escaped fugitives into slavery, as a duty binding on good citizens,—when she heard, on all hands, from kind, compassionate and estimable people, in the free states of the North, deliberations and discussions as to what Christian duty could be on this head,—she could only think, These men and Christians cannot know what slavery is; if they did, such a question could never be open for discussion."

Lastly, she encourages Christians to help the slaves (at the end of her book). For example, she illustrates that Christians should open their doors to slaves, pray for them, and even help educate them.

Consequently, Stowe utilized her characters and her direct address to her audience to illustrate that Christian ethics and slavery are not compatible. Not only this, but she also encouraged her audience to act on this observation and help the slaves receive the help they deserved.

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