Book Review: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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I have always asserted that books could never drive me to tears. But that is until now; because Uncle Tom’s Cabin came close, very close. And if it could have such an effect on me, after all these years when slavery is pretty much done and dusted with and everybody acknowledges it for the abominable act that it was, I cannot even begin to ascertain the way it would have moved the population that was directly or indirectly a part of it, back when it was originally published.

Much of that can be credited to the author’s devastating portrayal of the black families: what they were in the eyes of the slave-keepers and traders, what they had to endure, and ultimately, what they had to lose. It almost feels ridiculous to say this in retrospect, but the book’s raison d’etre is to show that the slaves were just people, after all.  We, in the current world, have the privilege of history. We know how ultimately slavery was abolished under Lincoln in 1865, but at the time that book was published, things were still under steam. A group of people would vehemently hold on to their belief (based on their holy book) that the slaves were better off under their masters, that they needn’t be free. And I suppose this book served as a bird’s eye view to finally see the issue of slavery as a humane problem. That every man was equal under the eyes of God, to quote the Bible.

Christianity, indeed, is one of the bigger themes of the book. And one that Harriet uses to drive her point home multiple times. It begs the question of whether it would have been impossible to make people see the good side without bringing God and salvation into the picture, but as was evident, it did serve her purpose. Take Tom for instance, our lead character, who is a man of integrity, compassion, courage and just what you’d call a “really good fellow”. It is frequently implied that Tom is the person that he is because of his faith and his joyous submission to God. So much so that his unwavering faith helps him even in death. He knew that he was going to a better place. And he makes it clear to the people around him, and by extension, the readers.

The other political and civil messages are delivered through various characters such as George Harris for instance (an industrious man who flees to Canada with his wife and child to attain freedom from his abusive master). Even otherwise, Harriet populates her book with characters who fall under every corner of the moral compass. It’s through these characters that we see the plight of the slaves and also of the keepers. One of my favorite sections of the book are the debates between Augustine St. Claire and Miss Ophelia. Two people who are on the same page about slavery, but for totally different reasons.

It’s all these ideas and contemplative remarks bouncing off the pages that make this book such a thrilling read. There’s hardly ever a dull moment, because even when nothing of import is going on, the narrative still keeps you mulling. And while this is not a book that one praises for its prose, I will say that it was pretty functional. The fact that she even went as far as to get the voices distinct is no small achievement.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an important book; not just for what it stands for, but also for what it was able to achieve. In Abe Lincoln’s own words, Harriet was “the little woman who made the great war”.

Horror In Two Sentences #HalloweenWeek

To keep up the Halloween spirit, which is only a handful of days away, I’ve decided to attempt a scary story every day till Halloween in just two sentences.

Feel free to join in the fun if you want to!

Here’s story two:

‘You were amazing last night!’ he said with a coy smile. She arched her eyebrows. ‘What do you mean?’

 

(HITS-2)

Check out other stories: HITS

Horror In Two Sentences #HalloweenWeek

To keep up the Halloween spirit, which is only a handful of days away, I’ve decided to attempt a scary story every day till Halloween in just two sentences.

Feel free to join in the fun if you want to!

Here’s the story for today:

Harry finished his shower and bolted the bathroom door behind him as he left.

Then he heard three knocks, from inside.

(HITS-1)

FFfAW: Oh Danny boy!

Louise, with the “The Storyteller’s Abode” has provided our prompt photo this week. Thank you Louise!

Oh Danny! For once I wish you’d listen to me.

You are out there, in the sea, all by yourself. The weather guy says a heavy thunderstorm is expected in the bay tonight. And you’re not home yet. What did I tell you when you strapped on your fishing gear? ‘Danny, the clouds looks ripe. Please don’t go!’ Didn’t I plead?

But you didn’t listen. You never listen.

I’m sat at the window now; flicking a tear away, wiping my glasses, craning my neck, all in hope to see the little flash light from your boat. But all I see is the black waters of the sea.

And then the sky crackles. A wind picks up, swaying the trees to their limit. The rain droplets start to hit the roof pretty hard. Buried in that cacophony, my eyes start to rain too.

Please come back home safe, Danny! I love you so much. But I hate you for doing this to me.

(160)


This is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers contest hosted by the amazing Priceless Joy. Today was the first time I wrote in second-person!

Please click on the below image to read further amazing stories!

FFfAW: Ciao

Thank you so much to Scott, with the blog, Scott’s Place, for providing our photo prompt this week.

As Jimmy walked up to the horses to say his final good-byes, the only thing he felt was guilt. He shouldn’t be leaving them, but fate had her own way. And Athena, he did not have the courage to face her…

For seven years now, Jimmy had worked on the ranch. He tended to the horses and the sheep, and even though it didn’t pay much he did it lovingly. It had been the first summer after he joined that he found a white colored pony wandering outside the ranch. No one knew to whom it belonged. So Mr. Poe decided to take her in. ”Tis not everyday you see a white horse in these parts, boy!!’ he said cheerfully. Jimmy quickly took a liking to the pony. He liked that she looked so regal with eyes that spoke of brilliance. He promptly named her Athena, much to Mr.Poe’s dismay.

For seven years, he had seen her grow into an adorable horse. She was always sport for a ride and was a great listener too.

As he stroked Athena’s forehead now, Mr. Poe suddenly appeared behind and looked at him tenderly. “Tell you what, boy! Take her with you. I think she’ll like it.’  


Slightly longer this time at 205 words but I couldn’t chop off anything. Also, I don’t know much about the cowboy culture and animal ranches so please pardon if I have made any conceptual mistakes here.

Written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. Click on the below image to read more.

MFtS: Threat

This post is written for the Monday’s Finish the Story Challenge.


Photo credit: Barbara Beacham

“Where did they go?”

Urul-Ai peeped through a hole in the ruined wall. The open field stretched in front of him, but there was no sign of the lions. Uri-Mai was taking deep struggled breaths, still very much in shock. The sun shone mercilessly from above, and they were parched.

‘Where did they go, brother??’ she asked again, a bit agitatedly. She was the one who woke him up today morning, and to his horror alerted him to the three lions out in the field. They lay low ever since, keeping a careful watch.

“I cannot see them at all,” he whispered. The afternoon was at its peaks now, and he wondered if the lions had gone for a drink in the pool.

Then suddenly, he heard a faint roar. Then a moment of silence. And then there was it again, this time much more closer.

‘RUN!!!!’ he yelled at Uri-Mai. She flung her bow and quiver over her shoulder and dashed after him.

(155)

FFfAW: Will he or won’t he?

This week’s photo prompt is provided by TJ Paris. Thank you TJ!

The princess stared at the waves lashing up the coast from her large window. Today my prince would come, she thought. Her savior. The one who is going to defeat the red dragon that’s laying guard at the base of the fort and take her away. And then they’d marry, in front of the whole country, and they’d become a thing. The bards will sing songs of them, the writers will write tales of the suave and bold warrior who saved the world’s most-loved princess from the evil clutches of the red dragon.

She spent the day running around the fort, catching shrimp by the shore, and singing Taylor Swift songs aloud – much to the chagrin of the red dragon, who spouted smoke now and then from his enormous nostrils. At evenfall, the princess returned to her chambers, disappointed.

Tomorrow then, she said to herself.

The prince never came. Turns out he used Apple Maps instead of Google’s, and they led him to a tornado instead of the island.

The princess died old and wizened, hopeful of the prince’s arrival till her last breath.


Please click on the below link for more details on the challenge.

FFfAW – My love for you…

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Sonya O. Thank you Sonya!

“My love for you is like that swan ice sculpture!” Billy announced, pointing. Tracey stopped in her tracks and considered for a moment.

“So you’re saying your love is cold?”

His face drained of all color. “Very funny, try again!”

Tracey smirked and stroked her hair, pretending to be deep in thought.

“It’s pristine and also transparent?” she asked cheerfully.

Billy rolled his eyes. “Hmmph. Not what I had in mind, but sounds good.”

She threw her hands up gesturing that she couldn’t think of anymore but he prodded her on.

“Eventually it’s going to melt?” she said finally. “Is that what you are saying?”

“Kind of…”

“Kind of??” she glowered at him.

“No! That wasn’t the point.” He took her hands in his and held them to his chest. “Okay maybe it was a bad analogy. But what I meant was, you and I both know, we did put a lot of effort into this relationship. We could have given up but we didn’t. And we finally have carved something like this beautful ice sculpture. But I’d hate to see it melt just because we couldn’t maintain the right temperature. You know what I mean?”

She was silent for a second and then slowly nodded, tightening her grip on his hands.


Please click on the below link for more details on the challenge.

FFfAW: The Outcast

One day a little gooseberry opened her eyes and found herself in a vineyard. Everything looked strange and alien, the other fruits around her were of the same color but looked pretty different otherwise. They were oval, their skin had better sheen and were hanging around together in bunches while she was alone and separated.

When the grapes looked at her, they immediately knew that she was not one of them. The gooseberry felt lost. And even though she loved the sweet smell of the grass and those distant verdant meadows, she constantly lived in anxiety and fear that maybe she did not belong in the vineyard. That’s how the grapes had made her feel anyway. She craned her neck to see if they were any more like her. They probably were – she couldn’t have been the only anomaly, she thought strongly.

Days passed. The grapes constantly threw lewd remarks, criticizing the ugly scales on her skin and how she wouldn’t even taste as good. But one fine morning, an other gooseberry popped up next to her. She welcomed this little brother with delight. Soon, there were a bunch of gooseberries. She finally had company and did not have to face this battle alone. The grapes were starting to get intimidated too. It was not going to be so bad after all, she realized, with a smile.

Grapevines photographed by Vanessa Rodriguez. Thank you Vanessa for our photo prompt!


This has been written for the challenge Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Click the below image for more details.

The Writeress

Katie scurried to the exit of the deserted park. How long had she slept? She remembered entering the park at about 10 AM and settling down under a cherry tree with her laptop to write something for the magazine. She was already way past her deadline, and the editor had made it very clear this time that if she doesn’t have something up by tomorrow, she may as well be looking at a pink-slip. Juggling two jobs, coupled with irregular sleep is starting to take a toll on her.

She remembered dozing off about halfway through the article, her back resting against the tree, laptop on thighs. She had woken up with a start, looked around in a daze only to find the sun setting on the horizon. The fountain in the pond has been shut off. There was no clatter of kid’s playing. No rustle of the wind blowing. All she heard was the distant cackle of a bird.

Benny would have returned from school. Oh, poor Benny. He hated coming back to an empty house.

Words:180

          This week’s photo prompt is kindly provided by Dawn M. Miller. Thank you Dawn.

This has been written for the challenge Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, where we are supposed to write a story over a photo prompt.