A Reading Group Guide for Uncle Tom's Cabin
About the Book
Arthur Shelby is a good man -- kind and fair -- but he has fallen into financial difficulties. The only way he can set things right is by selling two of his slaves: the strong and faithful Tom, and Eliza's charming young son. Shelby's decision sets in motion two series of events that are as different as night and day, as both Tom and Eliza are forced to leave the Shelby estate. The journeys they take, and the people they meet along the way, lie at the heart of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a story that served as a searing indictment of the slave system that existed at the time. Discussion Topics
- How do the other people on the Shelby estate react to news of the sale of Tom and Harry? What is Mrs. Shelby's objection? How does young "Mas'r George" deal with the news of his friend's departure? How do the other slaves react?
- Many different people help Eliza during her flight -- Mr. Symmes, the Bird family, the community of Quakers. What similarities and differences are there among all these people? What reasons does each of them give for helping Eliza?
- Much of the dialogue in the book is given over to a debate on the morality of slavery. Most of the slave owners feel that they are "above" the slave traders. Is this true? Why do you think that so many members of the clergy defended slavery?
- Discuss the author's attitude toward her black characte