Suggested Essay Topics
1. Describe Mr. Shelby’s relationship to and views on his slaves. What difficulties arise from his position?
2. Describe Haley’s opinions on the slave trading business. In what ways is he being harsh, or is he being realistic?
1. Compare and contrast George’s character to his master’s. What does Mr. Harris’s actions lead George to conclude about slavery?
2. Compare George’s sense of religion to Eliza’s. Why is he unsure of his own faith, but confident in Eliza’s?
1. How do Uncle Tom and Aunt Chloe raise their children? Are they strict or lenient? In what ways?
2. Describe Eliza’s thoughts and emotions as she learns about and decides her fate. What does she remember about her life growing up on the plantation? What are her fears about the future?
3. Why does Mrs. Shelby feel that both masters and slaves are cursed by slavery? How do the Shelbys suffer? How do the servants on the plantation suffer?
1. Discuss Andy’s and Sam’s loyalty to Mrs. Shelby. What does it say about their relationship to her?
2. Examine Haley’s impressions of the situation. Why does he think that he is being played for a fool? When does he believe that circumstances are beyond his control?
1. Discuss Tom’s attitude toward Mr. Shelby, Haley, and the remaining servants. Which one(s) does he feel the most sorry for, and why?
2. Discuss the relationship between Tom Loker and Haley. What role does Marks play in their discussion?
3. Describe Sam’s manner and style of telling the story of Eliza’s escape. How does his rendition differ when he tells Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, and then the other servants?
1. Describe the relationship between Senator and Mrs. Bird. How do they affect one another?
2. What sort of characteristics does Mrs. Bird identify with in Eliza? How does this affiliation help Eliza?
1. Describe how the Shelbys have failed Tom. What are the different reactions of Mr. Shelby, his wife, and Master George?
2. How does Tom address his family? The Shelbys? Haley?
1. Describe Mr. Wilson’s understanding and use of the nation’s laws and the Bible to justify his arguments. Why does he really want to dissuade George from running away?
2. Discuss George’s personal history and its effects on his views of slavery.
1. Describe some of the riverboat passengers’ reactions to Haley in particular and slavery in general. How do they justify their arguments for or against slavery?
2. Discuss Haley’s reasons and emotions for trading slaves. How does he explain his position from a personal perspective? From a religious perspective?
1. Describe the relationships among the Quaker settlement. What principles do they follow? How do these beliefs affect escaped slaves?
2. How do George and Eliza react to the Hallidays’ generosity? Does it relieve the Harrises’ worries? Why or why not?
1. Describe St. Clare’s bargaining methods with Haley. What points does St. Clare raise in regard to slavery? To religion?
2. Analyze Miss Ophelia’s perception of the world. How does the New England region affect her views?
3. In what ways are Uncle Tom and Eva alike?
1. What sort of relationship do St. Clare and Marie have? On what do they agree or disagree?
2. Describe why Eva is the “only true democrat.” How does this title conform to her religious beliefs?
3. How does Miss Ophelia view slavery? What prompts her opinions of servants?
1. Discuss Simeon Halliday’s and Phineas Fletcher’s views on violence. What do they advise George to do?
2. In what ways does Phineas’s former life as a backwoodsman help the fugitives?
1. Compare and contrast St. Clare’s and Miss Ophelia’s views on the role of servants. For what does Ophelia think that masters should be responsible?
2. Discuss how St. Clare became a slave holder and Miss Ophelia a slavery opponent. How did their family backgrounds affect their views?
3. Examine St....
(The entire section is 1,277 words.)