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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin Chapter 17 Summary

  • As the Quakers prepare for George and Eliza’s journey, the married couple has a little chat.
  • Eliza encourages George to trust in God. George is struggling with his faith, but he wants to please his wife.
  • His single biggest concern, however, is reaching Canada.
  • Phineas Fletcher comes to take the family to their next point. He says they need to get going pretty quickly.
  • Phineas says that he was in a tavern last night and overheard Tom Loker and Marks discussing their plans to find Eliza and George.
  • The slave hunters know that Eliza and George are in the Quaker settlement, so they’re on their way.
  • According to Phineas, Tom Locker and Marks want to send George back to his master so that he can be made an example of. They intend to sell Eliza in New Orleans and send the boy, Harry, back to Haley, the slave trader.
  • The group tries to decide what they should do and finally agree to leave as soon as it’s dark.
  • George says he’s not planning on attacking anyone, but he will defend his family if necessary. He asks if any of the Quakers would blame him for protecting his family.
  • They reply that they couldn’t blame him.
  • We learn that Phineas converted to the Quaker faith after he fell in love with – and married – a Quaker woman. Although he is dedicated to the faith, he still struggles with some of its pacifist principles.
  • Eliza and George discuss whether God is on their side. Eliza is sure of it, but George still doubts. One of the Quakers reads an encouraging Bible verse to them.
  • They leave as soon as it’s dark.
  • It doesn’t take long before they hear the sound of a horse’s hooves behind them. It’s another Quaker, come to let them know that slave hunters are in hot pursuit. In fact, just as he delivers his message, they hear the sound of galloping horsemen approaching.
  • The pursuers gain on the Quakers, but the good guys make it to some rocks, where they have a clear view (and aim) of anybody who tries to come and get Eliza and George.
  • When the pursuers arrive, they point out that the fugitives are "treed," basically stuck in a corner. But the fugitives have different ideas: they have a gun.
  • George Harris stands on a rock and tells Tom Loker and Marks that he’ll shoot at anybody who comes any closer.
  • George, however, is exposing himself. One of the slave hunters takes aim and fires. A bullet nicks George, and the battle is on.
  • Tom Loker heads on up the rocks.
  • George Harris shoots Loker in the side. Then Phineas steps out in front and pushes Tom Loker over the cliff, down into the chasm.
  • Marks and the other men retreat. They first check to see if Tom is dead, but even though he is clearly alive, his own companions leave Loker at the bottom of the chasm.
  • The Quakers and the fugitives retrieve Loker. Phineas stops the man’s bleeding and they take him to be doctored up by some Quakers at a farmhouse an hour up the road.

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