Moby-Dick in Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

05 Jun

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would read about whaling in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  DId you catch the reference in chapter XXXVI?

Poor Tom has been beaten and tossed in the waste-room of the gin-house.  Simon Legree goes to see if Tom has been “broken-in” and is ready to obey his master’s every order.

     “Well, my boy,” said Legree, with a contemptuous kick, “how do you find yourself?  Didn’t I tell yer I could larn yer a thing or tow?  How do yer like it–eh?  How did yer whaling agree with yer, Tom?  An’t quite so crank as ye was last night.  Ye couldn’t treat a poor sinner, now, to a bit of sermon, could ye, –eh?”

How did yer whaling agree with yer, Tom?
Tom is the whale?

What a terrible image!

PS–Did you make a note that Legree spent time on a ship in his youth?  The plantation owner has some monomaniacal tendencies, like Ahab, don’t you think?


Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin


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4 responses to “Moby-Dick in Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    June 5, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Good observation Christine. I also learned from Mightier than the Sword that Both Stowe and Melville capitalized on the popularity of minstrel shows in the 1840s. Stowe’s scene was the Sam and Andy escapade and Melville’s was the sermon to the sharks.

  2. Jeannette

    June 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I was going to write a post on that, Adriana. The whole minstrel idea was interesting to me. My first exposure to minstrel shows was reading the Little House books. I loved how Stowe made Sam and Andy seem bumbling when really they knew exactly how to “handle” Haley.

  3. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    June 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I look forward to reading your post Jeannette.

    And Christine, I’ve been thinking more about your Ahab/Legree comparison and I definitely think there are similarities.

  4. dana

    October 19, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Since we just finished reading selections from Moby Dick last week, shortly before beginning Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I can see some connections between Ahab and Legree. However, in this case, I don’t think this is actually an allusion or reference, even symbolically, connecting Tom to “whaling”. The verb “to whale” means “to beat or thrash” and so a whaling is a thrashing. (

    Still, at your suggestion, I’ll be looking for compare/contrast connections between Legree and Captain Ahab as we move towards the end of the book in a few weeks.


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