Monday, August 06, 2012

Quotes from Uncle Tom's Cabin

This month's Classics Challenge is about picking a favorite quote from a classic and talking about it.

As mentioned in my previous post on Uncle Tom's Cabin, St. Clare Augustine is my favorite character.  The following quote is from the section of the book in which he tells his cousin, Miss Ophelia, how he came to be the cynic that he is.  Blessed with a sensitive soul, he lost the woman he loved, married one he didn't, and came to regret the life of inaction that he's been leading.  Tormented by the injustice he sees in his society,  he is unable to muster the energy to try to reform it.

Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in the story that is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies to us. There is a most busy and important round of eating, drinking, dressing, walking, visiting, buying, selling, talking, reading, and all that makes up what is commonly called living...
After St. Clare's heart was broken, he went through the motions of living--eating, drinking, dressing, walking, visiting, etc.--but his spirit died and even though he was blessed with a wonderful angel of a daughter, Eva, who is the bright and shining example of how one can do good in the world and make a difference regardless of age or circumstances, St. Clare chose to live as an inactive cynic.  In a way, St. Clare's inaction is one of of the true crimes of the book--he neglected to act promptly and free Tom and his other slaves as Eva had requested as her dying wish and doomed him to his fate. 

If only he had listened to Miss Ophelia...

"But I want it done now," said Miss Ophelia.

"What's your hurry?"

"Because now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in," said Miss Ophelia. "Come, now, here's paper, pen, and ink; just write a paper."
Truly, "now is the only time there ever is to do a thing in." For Stowe, a lifelong activist who wrote a book that changed the world, this quote would work as her epitaph.


  1. I read UTC for a class I took on the Civil War, so we looked at it primarily as a historical document. I've forgotten so much, including the characters in your quotes - I may need to look for a copy again.

  2. It is very simple but very meaningful quote.

  3. Another one I have yet to read.... sigh, so many books!

  4. A classic I read a long time ago. Ia also remember a version of it as a play performed in The King and I movie.

  5. I am interested in working together. Take a look at what I have done and I'll do the same
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