Uncle Tom's Cabin is a study in contradictions. It is rumored that President Lincoln credited Harriet Beecher Stowe with "…starting this great war," yet the novel she hoped would end slavery was banned by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as racist. Stowe wrote the character of Uncle Tom to be the book's hero, manly and moral, but today the label "Uncle Tom" means dull-witted and subservient.
The book's historical importance can't be denied, but have we evolved beyond Uncle Tom? Uncle Tom's Cabin can stir up some good discussion and writing in the classroom—in spite of its contradictions, if not because of them.