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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 15 Summary

  • This chapter gives us some background information on Augustine St. Clare and Miss Ophelia. The two are cousins, but grew up in different parts of the country, so they have pretty different views and values.
  • Let’s take a trip back into St. Clare’s life.
  • St. Clare spends his childhood in the South. He’s the son of a wealthy planter in Louisiana. St. Clare is one of two sons, and is the more sensitive of the two brothers.
  • When he goes to college in the North, he falls in love with a wonderful lady and returns South to make arrangements for their marriage.
  • While he’s at home, he receives a letter from his lover’s guardian, who says that by the time the letter reaches him, his lover will be married to somebody else.
  • Heartbroken and on the rebound, St. Clare goes wild, dates a woman who is totally inappropriate for him, and gets married.
  • While on his honeymoon, St. Clare gets a letter from his lover, stating that she’s still waiting for him. All the poor guy can do is write her back and say that it’s was too late.
  • St. Clare quickly learns that his new wife, Marie, is totally selfish and shallow. She never even recognizes that St. Clare is suffering, and certainly doesn’t do anything to help him get over his lost love.
  • Instead, Marie grows increasingly petulant, not understanding why her husband isn’t coddling her and making her the object of his every attention.
  • So that’s St. Clare’s life. Now for his cousin, Miss Ophelia.
  • Miss Ophelia grows up in New England with a typical, Puritan upbringing. She’s used to hard work and harsh religion.
  • When she decides to visit the South with her cousin, everybody’s afraid that the experience will corrupt her. She goes on the trip anyway.
  • According to Miss Ophelia, the greatest sins are laziness and dishonesty, which she called "shiftlessness."
  • But despite their extreme differences in character and background, Miss Ophelia and St. Clare get along very well. He’s a favorite of hers.
  • Back in the present, Miss Ophelia is on her visit to the South. She tries to help Eva get ready to get off the boat. They’re having a hard time closing Eva’s trunk, but finally they cram it shut.
  • Miss Ophelia is introduced to the world of the South. As soon as she steps off the boat, people are waiting to take her luggage. She keeps a hold of it herself, however, and goes to the carriage.
  • St. Clare teases his cousin and lets her know that she can’t possibly stay in the South and refuse to let others carry her luggage.
  • They arrive home at last.
  • Tom is overwhelmed by the beauty of the lush Louisiana plantation that the St. Clares call home.
  • St. Clare and Eva greet all the servants.
  • Miss Ophelia is appalled to see Eva fly to "Mammy" and kiss her. She says that southerners can do something she can’t: touch black people.
  • They greet all the various servants and St. Clare scolds his personal servant, Adolph, for wearing some of St. Clare’s clothes.
  • St. Clare gives Marie, his wife, a small drawing of him with Eva. But Marie isn’t grateful. She simply criticizes the drawing, saying she is too sick to talk about it or be grateful for it.
  • Miss Ophelia recommends juniper berry for Marie’s headache.

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