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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



7. Slavery and
Freedom


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
Activities
- Author
Activities
- Context
Activities
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Author Activities


Harriet Beecher Stowe - Author Questions

Back Back to Harriet Beecher Stowe Activities
  1. Comprehension: How does Stowe use racial and gender stereotypes in her characterization of Uncle Tom, Topsy, Little Eva, Eliza, George, and Simon Legree? Do any of these characters challenge common stereotypes? How?

  2. Comprehension: Sometimes Stowe as the narrator of Uncle Tom's Cabin will address her audience directly as "you" and "dear reader." What is the effect of these direct appeals from the writer to the reader? Why do you think Stowe uses this technique?

  3. Context: Compare Stowe's portraits of black women's sufferings in slavery (Eliza, Cassy, Emmeline) with Jacobs's account of her real-life experiences. How does Jacobs's narrative draw on some of the same sentimental conventions Stowe uses in her novel? How is Jacobs's story different?

  4. Context: Stowe closes her novel by urging that all her readers involve themselves in the struggle against slavery: "There is one thing that every individual can do--they can see to it that they feel right. An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who feels strongly... is a constant benefactor to the human race." What do you think Stowe means by "feeling right"? What kind of audience is she appealing to? Do you think her strategy is effective?

  5. Exploration: Uncle Tom's Cabin achieves powerful results by allying a discourse of domesticity and sentimentality with a call for social reform. How does Stowe's formula influence later American literature? Can you think of other novels that adopt similar strategies?

  6. Exploration: One of the most famous covers of an edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin reworks Edward Hicks's famous painting A Peaceable Kingdom. Examine both the original painting and the Uncle Tom's Cabin version. How does the painting for the cover of Uncle Tom's Cabin revise the original image? What aspects of A Peaceable Kingdom would have made it an appealing image to the creator of the Uncle Tom's Cabin cover?



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