Uncle Tom's Cabin | Study Guide

Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Uncle Tom's Cabin | Chapter 37 | Summary



Chapter 37 returns to the story of George, Eliza, and Harry, but focuses first on Tom Loker. Dorcas, who is nursing him back to health, is described as a perfectly groomed Quaker who gently remonstrates Tom whenever he swears. Tom is irascible, but he is good enough to give warning that George and his family should quickly move into Canada and should disguise themselves.

The Quakers heed Loker's warning. They send Jim and his elderly mother first. Then George's party is taken to Sandusky, which is the town from which boats go into Canada, and final preparations are made. Eliza is to pose as a young man, so she cuts off her beautiful hair and practices walking and moving like a male. Harry is dressed like a little girl and is accompanied by Mrs. Smyth, a Quaker woman who claims to be the child's aunt. To get Harry used to her, he has been under her charge for several days.

As the party boards the boat George is shaken to see Marks and hear him describing the family. But all fears are relieved as Marks disembarks and the boat leaves the dock. The day is beautiful and George and Eliza finally taste the full sweetness of freedom as they arrive in Amherstberg, Canada. Stowe spares no words of sentiment in describing their bliss.


Stowe intersperses her description of the final leg to freedom with direct addresses to the reader. She speaks to "men and women of America" about the gift of liberty and freedom and urges the nation to make it the right of every human. She ends the chapter with the question, "O, ye who take freedom from man, with what words shall ye answer it to God?"

When George and Eliza reach Canada, it is God to whom they give their thanks. George has fully turned to the Christian way of life, the type of conversion that Stowe has so happily shown throughout the novel. Even the brute Tom Loker, once he is returned to health, is converted enough to give up slave trading. The point is again made that slavery and Christian beliefs simply cannot exist side by side.

The only sad note in this chapter is that the Harris family cannot enjoy their lives in the United States, cannot even live together there as a family, but have had to escape to Canada. Only there can they be "unsubject to the will of another."

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