Pitfalls of Slave System in Uncle Tom's Cabin

In Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe has brought the most vicious pitfall of slave system that is the tragic disintegration of a family of slaves. The White masters are of the opinion that the slaves have no family. In the system of slavery a mother has to sacrifice her son, a husband has to sacrifice his wife and children.


Harriet Beecher Stowe



Husband and wife are separated. Mother and son are torn apart. Virgin slave girls live in a constantly haunting atmosphere of being defined sexually. Slave marriages had no legal status. Many marriages ended when a slave owner decided to sell a husband or wife. Slaves lived with the anxiety that their families might at any moment be separated against their will. Slave women lacked the power, the right to resist the sexual advances of their master. Children younger than ten were sometimes sold away from their mothers. Finally, slaves were constantly reminded that their black skin rendered them inferior in American society.

The system of slavery was so constraining that even the men with a pious intention at heart, like Mr. Shelby and Augustine St. Clare were helplessly unable to take an active initiative towards the abolition of slavery. Mr. Shelby had no intention to sell Uncle Tom and Small Harry. But to pay back his mounting debt he was under economic pressure to sell a piously submissive slave Uncle Tom and a playful child Harry.

Eliza had told Mrs. Shelby to stop Mr. Shelby from selling her small son Harry. Mrs. Shelby had promised Eliza that the child Harry will never be sold. But Eliza saw no chance to keep her son back from being sold. So she planned to escape to Canada. She took her son, ran to the Ohio River and in desperation crossed the river to the utter amazement of those who ran over to catch her. Uncle Tom had been the most submissive slave of Mr. Shelby. But even he was torn apart from his wife and children. Uncle Tom is a habituated to his fate. He acts, in a fatalistic way, whatever pitfalls befall him. He behaves as if blacks are slaves and slaves are destined to live in this miserable condition. After being sold to Simon Legree, Uncle Tom descended into the deepest hell of slavery. In Simon Legree's plantation Uncle Tom saw other slaves already dehumanized and defeated in spirit. The merciless beating by which Uncle Tom died stands for a timeless symbol for the pitfalls of slavery.

In the plantation of Simon Legree many slaves used to cooperate. This act of co-operation infuriated Simon Legree. Simon Legree threatened Uncle Tom to stop helping other slaves. In case he is found helping others, his backbone would be broken by Legree. The prevention of cooperation amidst slaves in Legree plantation is the worst pitfall of slavery.

Finally another pitfall of slavery is, George Harris was constantly nagged by his master. The moment George Harris' master found him clever and creative, his master began to do many worst things to him. George Harris was given much more burden of work. Eliza had given George Harris a dog as a gift. But George Harris angry master drowned this dog. Moreover, George Harris had invented a machine. But his infuriated master broke machine. The damage of creativity is another pitfalls of slavery. When Simon Legree, saw Uncle Tom being devoted to Bible he furiously said - 'I am your Bible'. Everywhere there was oppression. That is the worst pitfall of slavery.