Uncle Tom's Cabin | Study Guide

Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Uncle Tom's Cabin | Chapters 24–27 | Summary



Chapter 24

Two days after Augustine and Alfred's philosophical debate, Alfred and Henrique leave. Worn out from so much fun with her cousin, Eva has a rapid decline. Her parents finally seek medical advice, and selfish Marie St. Clare turns Eva's illness into an opportunity to put herself at the center as the miserable mother. When Eva is once again able to be up and about, she becomes even more angelic. Happy to be headed toward heaven, she puts the time she has left on Earth into pleading with her father to set the St. Clare slaves free.

Chapter 25

One Sunday afternoon when Miss Ophelia returns from church, she finds Topsy has been naughty and claims she must simply give up on the child. Topsy's response is the usual "I's so wicked! Laws! I's nothing but a nigger, no ways!"

Eva pulls the child aside and talks to her as Augustine eavesdrops. She tells Topsy that Miss Ophelia will love her if she'll just behave, but the clever Topsy has figured out Ophelia has a repugnance for African Americans she will never overcome. So Eva earnestly declares her own love for Topsy, tells her she'll soon die, and begs her to be good. Her words finally reach Topsy deep inside, and the child begins to weep inconsolably and promises she really will try to be good.

When Augustine reports the conversation to Ophelia, she admits her prejudice. She compares Eva to Christ and hopes she might learn from her.

Chapter 26

As the chapter opens readers learn Eva is now confined to her room, which is described as beautiful and peaceful. She likes to recline by the window where she has a view of the lake. One afternoon she hears Topsy being slapped by Marie for picking flowers she wants to give to Eva, and Eva immediately invites Topsy to bring the bouquet into her room. She then tries to speak to her mother about learning to view slaves as children of God, but Marie says they should only "be thankful for our own advantages."

Eva asks Aunt Ophelia to cut off some of her beautiful curls because she wants to give them away to the people she loves. Then she asks Augustine to call all of the servants into the room. Eva then presents each one of them with a lock of hair, telling them individually of her love and directing them to pray, listen to the Bible stories, and be prepared to see her again in heaven. She has very tender scenes with Uncle Tom, Mammy, and Topsy after all the others have left. The day ends with Eva also instructing her father on a Christian way of life.

Eva lives only days after this scene, with Miss Ophelia attending to her around the clock and Uncle Tom and Augustine carrying her around outside whenever she wishes. Mammy longs to tend to her beloved Little Eva, but Marie demands all of her attention, claiming she is seriously ill herself. Toward the end Tom refuses to leave the verandah outside Eva's room, saying he must keep "watchin' for the bridegroom," which is his way of saying he must be there when she dies.

The night Eva dies Augustine and Uncle Tom are with her. As she passes away she smiles "a glorious smile" and tells them she sees love, joy, and peace.

Chapter 27

After Eva dies she and her room are draped in white. Rosa and Adolph lovingly beautify her final resting place under the watchful eye of Ophelia. Topsy comes in with a beautiful flower and throws herself on the floor, sobbing and saying she wishes she were dead too. Witnessing this scene, Ophelia's reserve melts away and she cries as well and tells Topsy she loves her. Augustine is filled with wonder and realizes how very important Eva's life has been.

Augustine mourns mightily and silently, while Marie weeps loudly and draws attention to herself. The household is moved back to the city, and Augustine tries unsuccessfully to lose his grief in daily affairs. Uncle Tom, worried, keeps a close eye on his master and one day finds him reading Eva's Bible. Tom takes the opportunity to try to convert Augustine to Christianity, but Augustine just cannot believe as Tom does.


These chapters make clear how difficult it is for people to change. In most cases during the hardest times a person's core self is only magnified. Marie St. Clair's selfishness only increases as her daughter dies. Augustine's inability to accept Christianity remains, while Uncle Tom's devotion to a Christian lifestyle grows stronger. Eva's pure and Christlike being shines more brightly as her life force ebbs away. Only Topsy and Miss Ophelia have a true change of heart. Stowe's point seems to be that living a good life, a life of example, might eventually make a difference in others' lives—even those you would not think you could affect.

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