This novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe was meant to bring the reality of slavery in the South to the citizens of the North. In this book she portrays both the best and worst of the life of a slave. .
In the beginning of the book, she shows the Shelby Plantation as the more humane side of slavery, if there was such a thing. The slaves are treated kindly and with respect. Lulling you into a false sense of complacency, the story tells of Uncle Tom, the main character. He is a Christian and forgiving soul. He manages the other slaves and is married to Chloe, a large, loving and happy woman. Chloe is a housekeeper and cook in the Shelby household. .
We also meet Eliza and George Harris. Eliza is a slave at the Shelby Plantation, while her husband, George, lives nearby. They have a son, Harry (and later, a daughter, Little Eliza, who is born free in Canada.).
George, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby's son, is thirteen when the story begins and eighteen when it ends. He is a somewhat self-centered boy, but loves spending time with the slaves, reading the bible at their prayer meetings. He grows as the book evolves, becoming a young man of character who devotes himself to ending slavery, eventually setting all of his family slaves free, and keeping Uncle Tom's cabin as a monument. .
Mr. Shelby, in a time of financial need, plans to sell Uncle Tom and Harry. Mrs. Shelby has promised Eliza that her son will be able to stay with her, and is mortified to learn of her husbands" plans. She pleads with him not to do this thing, but Mr. Shelby informs her it is too late. He has already signed the papers. .
The papers he signs sell Uncle Tom and Harry to Haley, a slave trader. He claims to be humane to his slaves, but we soon learn of his real personality. He is a crude man who believes that slaves are the equivalent of animals, with no feelings. He can not understand why a female slave throws herself into the river after he sells her child.