Uncle Tom's Cabin
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom's Cabin Contrasting Regions Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Whoever has travelled in the New England States will remember, in some cool village, the large farmhouse, with its clean-swept grassy yard, shaded by the dense and massive foliage of the sugar maple; and remember the air of order and stillness, of perpetuity and unchanging repose, that seemed to breathe over the whole place. Nothing lost, or out of order; not a picket loose in the fence, not a particle of litter in the turfy yard, with its clumps of lilac bushes growing up under the windows. Within, he will remember wide, clean rooms, where nothing ever seems to be doing or going to be done, where everything is once and forever rigidly in place, and where all household arrangements move with the punctual exactness of the old clock in the corner. . . . (15.13)
Here the narrator describes a picturesque, ideal, domestic New England scene. There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. Although she clearly admires the order and virtue of northern housekeeping, the scene also lacks the beauty and vitality of southern estates like the St. Clare home. Perhaps northern and southern cultures both have contributions to make to an ideal American lifestyle.
It was known at the minister's and at the doctor's, and at Miss Peabody's milliner shop, that Ophelia St. Clare was "talking about" going away down to Orleans with her cousin; and of course the whole village could do no less than help this very important process of taking about the matter. The minister, who inclined strongly to abolitionist views, was quite doubtful whether such a step might not tend somewhat to encourage the southerners in holding on to their slaves; while the doctor, who was a stanch colonizationist, inclined to the opinion that Miss Ophelia ought to go, to show the Orleans people that we don't think hardly of them, after all. He was of opinion, in fact, that southern people needed encouraging. (15-16)
Miss Ophelia’s New England friends view the South as a place of great decadence and sin. Comically, they seem to believe that the decision of one spinster to visit New Orleans is going to result in radical changes. Stowe’s narrator will have the last laugh, however, when Ophelia redeems Topsy with Eva’s help.
"My dear Vermont, you natives up by the North Pole set an extravagant value on time! What on earth is the use of time to a fellow who has twice as much of it as he knows what to do with? As to order and system, where there is nothing to be done but to lounge on the sofa and read, an hour sooner or later in breakfast or dinner isn't of much account. Now, there's Dinah gets you a capital dinner, – soup, ragout, roast fowl, dessert, ice-creams and all, – and she creates it all out of chaos and old night down there, in that kitchen. I think it really sublime, the way she manages. But, Heaven bless us! if we are to go down there, and view all the smoking and squatting about, and hurryscurryation of the preparatory process, we should never eat more! My good cousin, absolve yourself from that! It's more than a Catholic penance, and does no more good. You'll only lose your own temper, and utterly confound Dinah. Let her go her own way." (18.84)
Miss Ophelia tries to sort the kitchen out and get it organized. When she’s frustrated, her cousin, St. Clare, says her problem is that she doesn’t understand southern culture. There is so much cheap labor, and gentlemen have so much time, that what does it matter if things aren’t organized? But for Miss Ophelia, a stereotypical pious New Englander, the disorder in the kitchen is almost immoral.