Uncle Tom's Cabin


The objects created as a representation of the events in Uncle Tom's Cabin show that even in the case of black compliance and adoption of the customs and culture of their white masters, blacks were still held as degenerate and socially inferior in the eyes of white culture.

Analysis by Ankur Bhagwath

The subtle ideas conveyed through the images show that not only were blacks were not just discriminated by white slave-owners, but also by the very people who sympathized with their plight. These objects, many of which show a loving relationship between Uncle Tom and Eva, actually use racially stereotypical features for Uncle Tom, portraying him as buffoonish and caricatured. This shows that even among those who despised slavery as a system, there was still a sense of deeply held racism.

The most surprising thing I could see about the images was about how many of them showed Uncle Tom as a more saintly figure, often engaged in learning with the young lady. However, very few of them, if any showed the brutal fate that he met. Despite Tom's fate being intrinsic to the argument of the novel, there is little emphasis on this at all, and far greater emphasis on earlier events.

Analysis by Trace Mersbach

The subtle ideas of these images are that African Americans were continued to be seen with a sort of strange, racist stereotypical view, even by northerners in the mid-19th century. Images of dolls and film versions of the novel that were made in the north still show the blackface and strange features that were common in the 1800s, but would certainly be considered racist by this time. This gives the subtle message that racism never actually died when slavery did, but only stopped being as public.

By far the most surprising thing I saw were the differences between the cultured black man and the portrayal of the cultured black man as compared to the regular slaves, as it showed a sharp difference between them. Uncle Tom was portrayed as a gentleman, while the slaves were seen as beggars. I thought that it was strange how racism was obvious in other areas of the pictures, but was gone in this specific part.