Harriet Beecher Stowe utilizes emotional appeal to gain compassion of mothers from the North and the South, black and white, on the issue of slavery in Uncle Tom?s Cabin. Stowe gives strong roles to her female characters and uses this as a symbol of maternity and strength. By giving motherhood strength, Stowe is saying that mothers will be the ones to end the evil of slavery, and the family will be saved through the power of motherly love. Stowe reveals the maternal instincts of Mrs. Shelby to care for Eliza and to teach her Christian values. Mrs. Shelby ?taught [Eliza] the duties of the family, of parent and child, and husband wife? (83). Mrs. Shelby goes against her husband to help Eliza and her son escape the slave trader. Eliza?s maternal instinct to keep her son is demonstrated when she crosses the Ohio River at great risk to herself and her son. Mrs. Bird?s generosity and maternal loss leads her to accommodate Eliza and she influences her husband to help Eliza escape. The matriarch role of Rachel Halliday is yet another example of the power of the mother as she cared for Eliza and her son, and harbored them from the slave hunters. These women are trying to end slavery and preserve their families; these women help Eliza to do the same.
Stowe delivers a powerful anti-slavery message by focusing on the relationship between mother and child. When describing Eliza?s sleeping son, Harry, Stowe?s reader becomes appalled that the sacred bond between mother and son could be broken, and that a precious child with ?a smile spread like a sunbeam over his whole face? (87), could be taken away from his mother. By focusing on a mother?s love for her child, Stowe is showing the injustice of slavery. Eliza?s love for her son outweighs all her other commitments and she changes from a passive, obedient slave to a brave and courageous woman because of this love.
Stowe uses the theme of the break up of the family to appeal to the emotions of the reader because it shows how slavery destroys a mother?s bond to her child and wears away the relationship between a wife and her husband.