Remember the other day when Christine brought up that odd seed cake from Jane Eyre that showed up again in Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Well, as appealing as that was, for our wrap-up I decided to try something new, yet thematic. I found a recipe for Mississippi Mud Cake from a Taste of Kentucky’s website. Despite the pound of butter, copious pecans, and a healthy share of cocoa, it was, well, uh, let’s just say there’s a reason I didn’t provide the link.
As we choked down our cake for our final wrap-up and answered SWB’s questions some of them seemed to be complete gimmees, for example:
Chronicle or Fable? Chronicle, HBS only reminds us that she knew of actual situations like the ones she wrote about two or three hundred times.
What do the characters want and what stands in their way? Uh . . . let’s see . . . this seems a bit like answering “Jesus” to every single Sunday School question, but “Freedom” and “Slavery” seem the obvious responses. Even if you take the wants some of the white characters and boil them down long enough you get the same answers. Maybe you could throw in “family” for Tom, but even that is tied up in his freedom.
Point of View? Omnicient Royal We. We’ve been over this, but we did add that we think that Harriet uses “we” to make us feel part of a greater community joining the battle against slavery.
Setting? The deeper south the worse it gets, the farther north, the better.
Style? Nothin’ fancy to see here folks, just a nice, plain, story designed to get your emotions in motion.
Beginnings and Endings? See the answer to wants and obstacles and reverse the order.
Do we Sympathize with the characters? Yup.
What techniques does the author use? As the seventh of thirteen children, Harriet put on her Middlest Child hat and approached the argument against slavery from every possible angle. There are stories with happy ending, stories with sad ending, good slave owners, bad slave owners, historical arguments, emotional arguments. It seems she covered her bases.
Is the novel self-reflective? We spent a good time talking about what this question even means (If you have great insight please help us out, we talked about it with Ruth and Adriana in the comments over here. We think for this book the presence of the Word of God is important to the answer, as is the importance of slaves being able to read, and Mrs. Stowe’s appeal to educate the freed slaves as they came north.
Did her time affect her? Oh yeah, just a little.
Is there an argument? Undoubtedly
Do we agree? How could we not.
See what I mean? We did talk in great depth about some of them, but really, the surface answer was the bulk of our substance. There were some nice answers to metaphors and images, but those will have to wait until tomorrow. Today, it’s just the basics. And they’re pretty basic.
Now, we don’t want you to get the wrong opinion, we loved this novel, and yet we found it difficult to discuss in depth. We had a similar experience with Jane Eyre. So we spent some time trying to identify a cause and effect relationship there, but I’m not sure we came up with anything more than dense, dry cakes. What do you think? The more we like a book the less we can analyze it? True or false? And if true, why?
You chew on that for awhile, you might need a swig or two of lemonade.