The Power of Love in Uncle Tom’s Cabin
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe supplies the reader with two diametrically opposed characters, the two children, representatives of the two extremes of society. The fair, high-bred child, with her golden head, her deep eyes, her spiritual, noble brow, and prince-like movements; and her black, keen, subtle, cringing, yet acute neighbor. They stood representatives of their races. The Saxon, born of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral eminence; the Afric, born of oppression, ignorance, toil and vice!
The two children, Evangeline and Topsy, teach us a lesson about love. While Evangeline’s “form was the perfection of childish beauty” and “there was about her an undulating and aerial grace,” the “expression of (Topsy’s) face was an odd mixture of shrewdness and cunning” and “there was something odd and goblin-like about her appearance.” When “no word of chiding or reproof ever fell on (Evangeline’s) ear for whatever she chose to do” Topsy was “whipped with a poker, knocked down with a shovel or tongs, whichever came the handiest.” “Always dressed in white,” Evangeline moved “through all sorts of places, without contracting a spot or stain” while Topsy “was dressed in a single filthy, ragged garment, made out of bagging.”
Of Evangeline, Miss Ophelia remarked, “Well, she’s so loving! After all, she’s no more than Christ-like,” and of Topsy, “so heathenish.” Evangeline told Tom her Christ-like feelings about slavery: “I’ve felt that I would be glad to die, if my dying could stop all this misery. I would die for them, Tom, if I could.” The word “God,” however, is meaningless to Topsy. When asked who her parents are, she responds, “I spect I grow’d. Don’t think nobody never made me.”
“A thousand times a day rough voices blessed (Evangeline), and smiles of unwonted softness stole over hard faces, as she passed; and when she tripped fearlessly over hard places, rough, sooty hands were stretched involuntarily to save her, and smooth her path.” Such was not the case for our mischievous friend Topsy. When Evangeline spoke to Topsy about her habit of stealing things, she asked her, “Poor Topsy, why need you steal? You’re going to be taken good care of, now. I’m sure I’d rather give you anything of mine, than have you steal it.” These were “the first word(s) of kindness the child had ever heard in her life” and “something like a tear shone in (her) keen, round, glittering eye.