Color Blindness in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
In the 19th Century, the criteria used to determine the individual’s social status would be seen as superficial and inhuman in today’s society. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Stowe clearly describes a community where the individual’s social status is created more by the color of the skin than by his own personal values. Furthermore, Stowe defies the societal belief by giving a “white inside” to a black character, Uncle Tom.
Even if Uncle Tom’s Cabin is considered a racist novel, it helps the reader having a concrete vision of the gap between Whites and Blacks. In her book, Stowe emphasizes the privileges encounter by white people over black color skin people. The first clear illustration of this statement is given by Eliza’s escape. In this scene, the reader is likely to see her being caught by her Master rather than her escaping from him. In the reality, a slave woman carrying a little kid with her had a little chance to escape in this time of strong slavery. But then, Stowe comforts the reader by giving Eliza a reason to be fine: “the well-know kindness of the family would be of itself a blind of suspicion, as making it an unlikely supposition that she could be a fugitive” (2487). At this point of the scene, the reader is left either convinced by the argument, or a little doubtful about the situation. But then, Stowe gives the ultimate argument for a successful escape by saying that: ” As she was so white as not to be known as of colored lineage… and her child was white also, it was much easier for her to pass on unsuspected” (2487.) Here, Stowe clearly supports the evidence of the privileges of being white looking. Yet, it doesn’t appear th…
…e Tom’s Cabin, Stowe’s ambiguity appears as a permanent trend in her book. If she seems to support the fact that being white was a chance at that time, she also depicts the cruelty of superficial judgement through Uncle Tom’s fatal destiny. However, Stowe illustrates the blindness of the society about the “true color” of Human being, and Uncle Tom’s cabin definitely leaves the reader to question his own blindness.
Adams, John. Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Twayne, 1963. 19, 21, 45, 62 , 67.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. “Declaration of Sentiments.” The Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. ,1998. 2035.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” 1852. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. 2325, 2326.