DANVILLE — “Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly” by Harriet Beecher Stowe is the Danville Library Adult Book Discussion selection for Monday, March 26, beginning at 6 p.m. at the library. This anti-slavery novel published in 1852 “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War,” according to historian Will Kaufman in his book “The Civil War in American Culture.” The novel became the second most popular book of the 19th century, the Bible being the first. This important novel, more than any other, showed the cruelty of slavery, its forced sale of children from their mothers, husbands from wives, hangings, beatings and the immorality of ownership of human beings. It was the first American novel “to take the Negro seriously and to have a Negro for its hero.”
The novel begins with a Kentucky farmer, Arthur Shelby, deciding to sell two of his slaves, Uncle Tom, who has a wife and children, and Harry, the five-year-old son of Emily Shelby’s maid, Eliza, in order to pay off his debts, thus saving his farm. When Eliza overhears the discussion, she runs away with Harry. Tom is sold to the cruel slave owner Simon Legree, who hates Tom because he refuses to whip his fellow slave. Legree beats Tom viciously and resolves to crush his new slave’s faith in God. The struggles of Eliza’s flight to freedom, the wisdom and dignity of Uncle Tom will never be “dated.”
George Sebouhian, Emeritus Professor of American Literature and teacher Rose Sebouhian will lead the discussion. This program is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
Published on March 21, 2012