Uncle Tom's Cabin Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Uncle Tom's Cabin: Novel Summary: Chapters 19-21

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Chapter 19: The next week when Prue was supposed to come with her basket, another servant showed up instead.  The slave gossiped that her master had killed Prue and the St. Clare's began talking about it around the dinner table.  Eva heard of the horror and began crying which upset her father.  Later, Ophelia and Augustine had a conversation about the institution of slavery.  Augustine told Ophelia his history, and the values instilled in him by his mother.  Because he was a man with 'womanly' sentiments, he never made a good planter.  His brother, Alfred, was the aristocrat of the two boys, and though after their father died the St. Clare boys began running the plantation together, Augustine soon sold his share.  He did not like to abuse slaves, and hated the institution.  Ophelia asked him why he did not just free his slaves and he answered it was due to laziness.  She did not agree with his opinions, but he said that the system of slavery was not only in the south, but that oppression was everywhere. 
Chapter 20: To prove a point to Ophelia about how to raise black children, Augustine brought a young much abused slave girl named Topsy into the household.  St. Clare gave her to Ophelia, and at first, the woman was horrified.  She tried to train her, but to no avail.  The other children adored Topsy, but though she was extremely bright and quick to learn, she plagued anyone who made her angry.  St. Clare thought she was funny, so anytime she got into trouble he would protect her. Ophelia thought that the New England way of raising children was the best through learning to read, sew, and whipping anytime they lied, but none of this worked on Topsy.  One day while the trials with Topsy were going on, St. Clare came upon Eva trying to help Uncle Tom write a letter to his family.  He was touched and offered to write the letter for him. He did so, and by the end of the evening, the letter was mailed. 
Chapter 21: Back up at the Shelby household in Kentucky, Mrs. Shelby began asking if the family would ever get out of debt enough to redeem Tom.  Mr. Shelby told his wife that she knew nothing about business, and that they would probably never get Tom back.  Aunt Chloe later talked to Mrs. Shelby about hiring herself out in Louisville to a confectioner, and Mrs. Shelby agreed saying that any money that Aunt Chloe made would be put towards redeeming her husband.  Aunt Chloe was extremely happy and grateful and planned to leave the next morning on a boat to Louisville.  She was also happy because living there would bring her closer in distance to her husband. 


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