Saturday, December 10, 2011

from the book pile: Uncle Tom's Cabin

[guest post by Natalie Murphy]

Natalie spent the first six weeks of her homeschooling calendar reading Uncle Tom's Cabin.  She plowed through it diligently, always feeling like it was too difficult to read.  I discovered as we chatted about the reading that she was gathering far more than she realized.  Still, I didn't want to push her past her willingness; I want to foster her curiosity and optimism as a reader of good books.  

Before she could put the book back on the shelf, I asked her to write a brief review.  I'm sharing it here today...

Title: Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Author:  Harriet Beecher Stowe

I was assigned to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin for school and I recently decided to stop. I didn’t abandon the book but I decided that I had taken enough away from the book at a learning standpoint that’d be okay if I didn’t continue. Here’s why:

1. The book is massive. I read over a hundred pages in and never really made a dent. Not only were there many pages, but they print was tiny and the chapters were quite long winded.

2. The book made me uncomfortable. This book is about Slaves during the time when slavery in the United States was at it’s worst. The ‘N word’ is used often, to make a point you’re supposed to feel uncomfortable. After reading about 130 pages, I already have learned a lesson about slavery and have a new idea of how wrong it was, not that I thought differently before, but I guess it just didn’t have the same magnitude of evil in my mind.

3. The dialect of the book is very hard to understand. Between the post-colonial English of the owners and the slave’s lack of education, it is very hard to follow what anyone is saying. How do you continue to read a book if you don’t know what it means? At the same time I have picked up many new words to add to my personal vocabulary.

            Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a highly acclaimed book, as it should be, and it has taught me a lot, even though I cannot finish it. I’m glad I got the opportunity to learn from it and I hope that someday I’ll be able to finally complete it!
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