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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Writers differ in the purpose for which they write. Some aim to entertain, but the more serious and skilled writers usually have the goal of expressing a serious idea. Writers such as Hariet Beecher Stowe and Alex Haley are writers who write for more than mere entertainment. Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, had a political purpose. Stowe intended to help America realize the inhumanity of slavery and the pain it brought upon African-Americans by writing a melodramatic novel. She despised the South for practicing slavery and the North as well for their prejudice against blacks. Roots was written by Alex Haley in search of his origin. His hunger for knowledge of who he was and who his ancestors were inspired him to carry out numerous years of research and countless interviews in order to finish his book. Although Alex Haley wrote Roots in search of his origin and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin for a political purpose, both authors lead readers to sympathize with the predicaments of African-Americans by putting a human face, as well as a racial one on the tragedy of slavery, thus involving all readers in the inhumanity of the institution.

In Uncle Tom's Cabin we are cordially introduced to Uncle Tom. He is a "large, broad-chested, powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a face whose truly African feature [are] characterized by and expression of grave and steady good sense, united with much kindliness and benevolence"(Stowe 24). By her description of Tom, Stowe contradicts the common stereotype that blacks are savages and inhumane by giving Uncle Tom the characteristics of an ideal, honest man. He is described as being "kind" and "benevolent" as well as having an "expression of good sense". Stowe also portrays Uncle Tom as a perfect being. It seems as if his personality is without a flaw and seems too good to be true. By giving Uncle Tom this flawless characteristic, Stowe is able to show that he too is human although his difference in skin color. As one is introduced to the setting of Uncle Tom's cabin, one feels at home and very relaxed. Aunt Chloe's cooking of various tasty dishes adds to the serene environment of the cabin and as we see Uncle Tom learning how to read and write from his young "Mas'r George," it seems as though there are no worries, hardships are unknown, and an utopia exists within the walls of the cabin. Stowe creates this peaceful scene in order to intensify the reader's disgust when tragedy strikes. It seems as if all is well and nothing can go wrong in Uncle Tom's life. Stowe also momentarily hides the heinousness of slavery by creating this carefree setting in Uncle Tom's cabin. Dramatic irony occurs as Uncle Tom has no clue of the tragedy that lies ahead while the reader senses a disruptive change close by(Stowe 25).

Around the world one is greeted with the good news of a manchild being born to Omoro and Binta Kinte in a village called Juffure which is located north of the coast of the Gambia, West Africa(Haley 1). His name is Kunta Kinte and with the progress of time, we learn that he is bright, tenacious, bold, confident, and honest. Haley, like Stowe, portrays Kunta in a positive manner in order for the reader to realize that African-Americans had a long line of history before they were kidnapped into slavery. They too had forefathers who accomplished great achievements and benefited the next generation in many different ways. They were not savages or inhumane in their homeland but instead, educated and civilized as well. Kunta shows great respect and admiration for his father and dreams of becoming just like Omoro when he becomes a man. Life in Juffure is very peaceful. The young, naked children play throughout the day by having wrestling matches and eagerly listening to the moral stories told by the village grandmothers, who loved the children as if they were their own. Older children attend school and learn the history of their forefathers as well as verses from the Koran. After classes are over, they tend the goats, which they do with extreme alertness for they are fully responsible for their fathers' goats. The women in Juffure pass the day by cooking breakfast, working in the rice fields during the day, and finally cooking dinner for their husbands and children. Although they are very busy all the time, they manage to find the time to relax by the town well and gossip amongst themselves. Finally, the men set off for their day's work of preparing the land for farming of the primary crops. After dinner they gather around the village bonfire along with Juffure's Council of Elders and discuss the many problems that occurred within the village. Unlike Stowe, Haley does not intend to intensify the mood of the reader when tragedy strikes. Instead, he is merely portraying the life of Kunta in an African village of the 1700s. By depicting Juffure, he is able to show that the Africans indeed had their own way of life in Africa. They were not savages that whites thought them to be as but rather civilized human beings with system and order established in their villages as well as a very humane family structure. In fact, Haley shows that these people showed great respect to their elders and to their ancestors with strongly established morals. He also introduces the reader to a different culture in a different time period so that he may compare it with their own ways of life. Furthermore, the reader gains knowledge of Haley's ancestors and their unique culture thus partially understanding the origin of African-Americans in our society today.

Unfortunately, back around the world Uncle Tom's cabin's transient utopia is shattered as we learn of the unfortunate fate of Uncle Tom. Although he is Mr. Shelby's best hand, he is to be sold to a slave trader because of the debt that Mr. Shelby has accumulated. He will be sold "down south" to work on a plantation and sadly end his life from exhaustion and emaciation. As he exchanges his last good-byes and leaves his home and family not knowing if he will ever return, one is amazed at his willingness to obey his master and not let him down no matter what the consequences may be. He is a man of sacrifice who is willing to give up everything important in his life to satisfy his master and save him from debt. His honesty and submissive attitude touches one's heart and also adds to the effect to the melancholic mood at the same time. Yet, this scene seems unrealistic. One is amazed at Uncle Tom's willingness not to disappoint his master and sacrifice his own life and everything he has. Once again his attitude toward this predicament seems too good to be true and absolutely heartbreaking to the reader. One begins to question how Uncle Tom can be so pious and honest in such

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