Mother's Love

If, as Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote in The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, Charles Dickens "awoke in noble and aristocratic bosoms the sense of common humanity with the lowly,"(p.265) Stowe herself sought to awaken in the democratic bosoms of America a sense of common maternity with "the lowly" - that is, with slave mothers. The slave mother's love for her children is equated with the reader's love for her own; the parallel is drawn as a sort of call to sisterhood in motherhood. In Uncle Tom's Cabin Stowe enlisted the reader's empathy for Eliza -- a woman bound to her child by the race-transcending power of a mother's love.

"If it were your Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going to be torn from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning, -- if you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and delivered, and you had only from twelve o'clock till morning to make good your escape, -- how fast could you walk? How many miles could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your bosom, -- the little sleepy head on your shoulder, -- the small, soft arms trustingly holding on to your neck?" (p.105)

A mother's love can endure any trial, even rejection by that to which it is most attached. Simon Legree's mother endured his "Boisterous, unruly, and tyrannical" treatment with a "long, unweared love."(p.528) The mother in Sigourney's Chapter V of Letters to Mothers shows this same "changeless" love. As T.S. Arthur wrote in his didactic novella The Mother, "Her love is a different one; it is more concentrated." (p.17)