Thursday, June 22, 2006
It's All in the Way you Look at It
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was published in 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe, very soon after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in the US. According to About, President Abraham Lincoln greeted Stowe by saying: "So, this is the little lady who wrote the big book that made this great war." Stowe's literary work has been called America's "first protest novel," by abolitionist, poet and writer Langston Hughes.
Ironically, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was banned in the South in the 1800s but also comes under attack today. While in the 1800s, it was banned for its sympathic view towards black slaves, today "Uncle Tom's Cabin" has come to represent a negative, even racist image.
It is so important to understand the context from which authors like Stowe have written. Otherwise, it is too easy to dismiss books like "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "Tom Sawyer," "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "Their Eyes were Watching God." If the language assaults our modern day ears and we are disturbed by the harsh depiction of being black in a white world, I'm sure these authors will feel that they have done their jobs.