Plot and Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The following short summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin plot provides a short overview of the events surrounding the main characters of the book.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: Introduction to the Story
A Kentucky farmer and kind hearted slave owner named Arthur Shelby and his wife Emily are forced to sell two of their slaves to pay off debts. The two slaves Arthur Shelby intends to sell are Uncle Tom and Harry to a cruel slave trader, Mr. Haley. Uncle Tom has a wife and children and young Harry is the son of Mrs. Shelbyís maid, Eliza. Arthur Shelby tells his wife who is greatly distressed as she had promised Eliza that she would never sell Harry.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Story of Eliza
Eliza overhears the conversation, warns Uncle Tom, and runs away to the North hoping to her husband George and reach safety in Canada. Eliza is pursued by the slave catchers but manages to reach a Quaker settlement after crossing the half frozen Ohio River which is the boundary separating the slave state of Kentucky from the North. Eliza is reunited with George.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Story of Uncle Tom
The slave trader takes Uncle Tom by boat along the Mississippi to be sold at a slave auction. Uncle Tom befriends a little white girl called called Eva St. Clare and rescues her from drowning. Her grateful father, Augustine St. Clare, buys Uncle Tom and takes him to the St. Clare home in New Orleans where Uncle Tom becomes a devout Christian. Ophelia, a cousin of the St Clare family, is hostile towards black people and to help Ophelia overcome her bigotry, he buys a young black girl called Topsy, and asks Ophelia to educate her. Eva then dies and Augustine St. Clare is killed. Uncle Tom is sold by Augustine's wicked wife Marie to a vicious plantation owner called Simon Legree. Simon Legree takes Uncle Tom to his plantation in Louisiana where Uncle Tom makes friends with the harshly treated plantation slave, Cassy and her daughter Emmeline.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: Simon Legree and the Death of Uncle Tom
The religious beliefs of Uncle Tom are sorely questioned but he experiences visions and his faith is restored. Uncle Tom helps Cassy and Emmeline to escape the terrible life with Simon Legree. Uncle Tom refuses to tell the evil Simon Legree where the escaped slaves have gone and Simon Legree orders his overseer to beat him. Uncle Tom is beaten to death but as he dies he forgives Simon Legree and the overseer. Just as Uncle Tom is dying George Shelby, the son of Arthur Shelby, arrives to buy Uncle Tomís freedom, but can only bear witness Tom's death as a martyr.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: Eliza and Cassy
It turns out that Eliza is Cassy's long lost daughter. The reunited family travel to Liberia, in Africa a safe home for former American slaves.
Summary of Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Slaves on the Kentucky Farm are set free
George Shelby returns to the Kentucky farm, where he gives all of the slaves their freedom in honor of Uncle Tomís memory. Uncle Tomís cabin is left standing as a reminder of the slave's Christian life and his martyr's death. George Shelby urges the slaves to follow Uncle Tom's Christian beliefs of forgiveness, loyalty and love which Uncle Tom's Cabin symbolizes.