Uncle Tom's Cabin
How we cite our quotes:
"This religious talk on such matters, – why don't they carry it a little further, and show the beauty, in its season, of a fellow's taking a glass too much, and sitting a little too late over his cards, and various providential arrangements of that sort, which are pretty frequent among us young men; – we'd like to hear that those are right and godly, too [. . .] Is what you hear at church, religion? Is that which can bend and turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every crooked phase of selfish, worldly society, religion? Is that religion which is less scrupulous, less generous, less just, less considerate for man, than even my own ungodly, worldly, blinded nature? No! When I look for a religion, I must look for something above me, and not something beneath." (16.158, 162)
St. Clare rejects the claim made by his wife and their minister that everything in the world is for the best as it is and doesn’t need to be meddled with. Another book that skewers this attitude is Voltaire’s Candide, in which teacher Pangloss constantly claims that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Using that logic, you could say that getting drunk and gambling are good things. St. Clare may not be a Christian, but he knows that true faith involves aspiring to be a better person.
Our friend Tom, in his own simple musings, often compared his more fortunate lot, in the bondage into which he was cast, with that of Joseph in Egypt; and, in fact, as time went on, and he developed more and more under the eye of his master, the strength of the parallel increased. (18.1)
Some slave masters thought that teaching their slaves to be Christians would keep them subjugated, but religion frequently became a powerful tool of slave resistance. Black slaves often used the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt as a metaphor or point of comparison for their own situation. God brought the Israelites up out of slavery; surely he might do the same for the slaves in the U.S. Tom, of course, isn’t like just any Israelite, but a prophetic leader, Joseph.
"O, Topsy, poor child, I love you!" said Eva, with a sudden burst of feeling, and laying her little thin, white hand on Topsy's shoulder; "I love you, because you haven't had any father, or mother, or friends; – because you've been a poor, abused child! I love you, and I want you to be good. I am very unwell, Topsy, and I think I shan't live a great while; and it really grieves me, to have you be so naughty. I wish you would try to be good, for my sake; – it's only a little while I shall be with you."
The round, keen eyes of the black child were overcast with tears; – large, bright drops rolled heavily down, one by one, and fell on the little white hand. Yes, in that moment, a ray of real belief, a ray of heavenly love, had penetrated the darkness of her heathen soul! She laid her head down between her knees, and wept and sobbed, – while the beautiful child, bending over her, looked like the picture of some bright angel stooping to reclaim a sinner.
"Poor Topsy!" said Eva, "don't you know that Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He loves you just as I do, – only more, because he is better. He will help you to be good; and you can go to Heaven at last, and be an angel forever, just as much as if you were white. Only think of it, Topsy! – you can be one of those spirits bright, Uncle Tom sings about." (25.49-51)
Eva’s simple declaration of love has more effect on Topsy’s moral character, soul, and religious feeling than all Miss Ophelia’s catechisms and rules ever could. Like Jesus, Eva spends her time with those who are lowly and cast out of society and gives them unconditional love. Stowe wants her reader to realize that this is what Christian behavior should be – not some stuck-up guy standing in front of a bunch of rich people and coming up with elaborate justifications for their sins.