Tom & Chloe cabin



There is no mistaking the message Stowe meant to convey in her description of Tom and Chloe's cabin. From the "large scarlet bigonia" covering the rough logs without, to the "snowy spread" covering the bed within, all is "neat" and "snug."

To the left is a floor-plan of Tom and Chloe's cabin, drawn from Stowe's sketch in Chapter IV "An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin." Unlike even the cheapest laborer's cottage proposed by A.J. Downing in The Architecture of Country Houses, this dwelling has only one room. It is not among the majority of American cottages, which according to Downing, were "occupied, not by tenants, dependants or serfs, as in many parts of Europe, but by industrious and intelligent mechanics and working men, the bone and sinew of the land, who own the ground upon which they stand." [Downing, 40.]

Nonetheless Stowe's depiction expresses that simplicity and industriousness that are so tasteful in cottage life. In Country Houses, Downing wrote, "The floors of the better cottages in this country...are universally covered with carpet or matting." [Downing, 371.] Chloe's cabin is among these; her piece of carpet is "of some considerable size," and on "this piece of carpeting Aunt Chloe took her stand, as being decidedly in the upper walks of life."

Like the ideal established by housing reformers, Tom and Chloe's home -- in its neat, orderly way -- is an expression of the morality of its inhabitants. Despite the inherent evil of the slave system, the domestic ideal is alive and well in Uncle Tom's cabin.


At the end of the novel Tom's cabin is sanctified by George Shelby. He calls on the new free men and women around him to honor the memory of Uncle Tom, and to emulate the virtues embodied by his cabin --

"Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM'S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be honest and faithful and Christian as he was."