October 17, 2012
Civility: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

As the story progresses three of the five subcategories of the theme “Spirit of Competition” become apparent, such as civility, failure and innovation. Civility or the absence of civility manifests within the characters Mr. Haley, a southern trader, and Mr. Shelby, a benevolent slave owner, through the trading and marketing of people as civilized and justifiable as “business”. The evolution of humanity seems to take a step back as the failures of men manifest through the regression to a barbaric state. First seen in the book when Eliza is hunted down in a manner comparable to that of a wild animal. Secondly when Uncle Tom is beaten and killed by a vengeful and spiteful master who could not break Tom’s faith. During the books first publishing in 1852, it brought about many innovations and innovative concepts such as the morality of slavery, the incompatibility of religion and slavery, and the evils and inhumanities of slavery, all the while Stowe paints a ghastly picture of the horrible atrocities of humans.

In September, October and November, Indiana Humanities is exploring the topic of “civility,” as part of its Spirit of Competition theme.

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