Importance of the Setting in Uncle Tom's Cabin

Importance of the Setting in Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Importance of the Setting in Uncle Tom's Cabin

 

      The book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was obviously a novel where the

setting was the major factor in the plot of the story.  If this had taken

place in any other  area, like Canada, there would not have even been as

story because slavery did not exist there.  Therefore the South was the

prime region to have this plot revolve around.  Everything contained here

contributed to the actions of the characters, which will be explained in

the following paragraphs.

 

      The setting was such an important influence because, like I said

before, it took place down in the South.  This is where slavery was at its

peak and was used and abused by almost every citizen.  The black race was

treated harshly just because of their color.  They were beaten, over-worked,

and disrespected.  Most of them were illiterate as well which did not help

one bit.  In turn they could not make intelligent decisions, better yet

pursue what they wanted.  Even if they had that ability though, that option

was not available because they were "black".

 

        The details of the setting that influenced the actions of the

characters were, again, the time period and where it took place.  However

this was not the only thing that persuaded the characters because they

influenced each other.  The citizens followed the crowd and did not have

their own opinions.  If some person's idea differed from that of the

majority, he/she would not dare speak up because they feared rejection.

Legree was one of the people looked up to and respected even though what he

was dong was totally wrong.  Since he had power and money though, he was

admired.  The only three people that actually did take a stand, if you will,

were George Shelby Jr., Augustine St.  Clare, and his daughter, Evangeline.

These three characters opposed slavery and tried to do something about it.

(Unfortunately, though, the St.  Clare's efforts were diminished because

they both died).  They were the citizens that should have been looked up to

and followed.

 

      Specific examples that show the setting's influence on the

characters were all over the book.  The next three excerpts will give you

an illustration of them.

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Importance of the Setting in Uncle Tom's Cabin Essay

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      This first passage was at the very beginning of the book when Mr.

Legree was inside of the Shelby's house, trying to make a deal on slaves.

See, the Shelby's were in debt at the moment and the only way that they

could make some money was to sell some of their slaves.  This family was

very nice indeed to their slaves and took care of them well so the last

thing that they wanted to do was sell them off, but in order to keep the

plantation functioning, money was needed.  Therefore, Mr.  Legree was going

to buy ten male slaves of his choice.  One out of his ten happened to be

Eliza's (Mrs.  Shelby's housekeeper) little son, Harry.  He was only buying

Harry to anger Eliza because he had actually wanted her, but could not have

her.  This next passage describes his personality and that of the other

slave traders.

 

        Lor bless ye, yes!  These critters an't like white folks, you know;

they gets over things, only manage right.  "Now, they say", said Haley,

assuming a candid and confidential air, "that this kind o' trade is

hardening to the feelings; but I never found it so.  Fact is, I never could

do things up the way some fellers    manage the business.  I've seen 'em as

would p7ll a woman's child out her arms, and wset him up tos ell, and she

screechin' like mad all the time; -- very bad policy - damages the article

- makes 'em quite unfit for service sometimes.  I knew a real handsome gal

once, in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o' handling.  The

fellow that was trading for her didn't' want her handling.  The fellow that

was trading for her didn't' want her baby; and she was one of your real

high sort, when hr blood was up.  I tell you, she squeezed up her child in

her arms, and talked, and went on real awful.  It kinder makes my blood run

cold to think on't; and when they carried off the child, a nd locked her up,

she jest went ravin' mad, and died in a week.  Clear waste, sir, of a

thousand dollars, just for want of management - there's where 'tis.  It's

always best to do the humane thing, sir; that's been my experience. "  And

the trader leaned back in his chair, and folded his arms, with an air of

virtuous decision, apparently considering himself a second Wilberforce.

(Stowe, p. 5).

 

      This next excerpt shows how brutally the slaves were treated at

some plantations.  The characters in this section are Cassy (the girl who

is getting beaten) and an overseer.  He has the nerve to stick a pin in her

head to wake her up after she fainted from being overworked and whatnot.

This is awful.

 

"I'll bring her to!" said the driver, with a brutal grin.  "I'll give her

something better than camphire!"  and, taking a pin from his coat-sleeve,

he buried it into the head in her flesh.  The woman groaned, and half rose.

"Get up, you beast, and work, will yer, or I'll show yer a trick more!"  (p.

351).

 

      The last paragraph again shows the misconduct of the slave traders

when they are inspecting their slaves and deciding if they want to buy them

or not.  How they treat them makes me cringe everytime because it is so

wrong.

        A little before the sale commenced, a short, broad, muscular man,

in a checked shirt considerably open at the bosom, and pantaloons much the

worse for dirt and ware, elbowed his way through the crowd, like one who is

going actively into business; and coming up to the group, began to examine

them systematically.  From the moment that Tom saw him approaching, he felt

an immediate and revolting horror at him, that increased as he came near.

He was evidently, though short, of gigantic strength.  His round, bullet

head, light-gray eyes with their shaggy, sandy eye-brows, and stiff, wiry,

sunburned hair, were rather unprepossessing items, it is to be confessed;

his large, coarse mouth was distented with tobacco, the juice of which,

from time to time, he ejected from him with great decision and explosive

force; his hands were immensely large, hairy, sun-burned, freckled, and

very dirty, and garnished with long nails, in a very foul condition.  This

man proceeded to a very free personal examination of the  lot.  He seized

Tom by the jaw, and pulled open his mouth to inspect his

mouth; made him strip up his sleeve, to show his muscle; turned him round,

made him jump and spring to show his paces.  (p. 332).

 

        As you can see, the setting is the major influence in this book.

It puts everything into place and ties everything together to make sense.

Without it, there probably would be no, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and that would

be a great loss indeed.
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