Ida Lee and Uncle Tom
Ida and the Bees is a 1970s story by George Rawick while Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a novel by Harriet Beecher from mid 19th century. While written in different eras, these two readings cover one topic. They both portray that abolition of slavery was a joint effort between whites and blacks. Also, the events that happened before and during the Civil War united both the slaves and their masters in various ways.
Both readings cover the theme of slavery. Ida is a slave’s daughter in a North Carolina plantation where her parents serve the Jeffries. Uncle Tom starts as a stable slave at the Shelby farm in Kentucky from where he is sold a few times before his death. Another major idea in both texts is master-slave loyalty and friendship. Ida adores Frank while Tom is loved by the Shelby’s as well as Eva, his second master’s daughter.
Before the war, slavery was accepted as a normal thing by all involved. If a slave master was not violent, the slaves would enjoy their life and become extremely loyal to him or her. Ida even claims that her owner was a good person despite underfeeding his slaves. “Marse Frank was very good to his slaves – maybe excepting that they never got enough to eat.” The same is seen in Uncle Tom’s case where Augustine, despite being against slavery, purchased blacks but never beat them.
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The authors have presented the texts in a way that progresses from normal slavery to codependence. The characters start with traditional roles but later become friends due to specific events. This is similar to the movie Django Unchained where Django Freeman assists Dr. Schultz to kill some outlaws which lead to his freedom and friendship. The two would later embark on a mission to save Freeman’s wife, Broomhilda, who is still a slave. Racial differences are put aside as friendship grows.
Despite the Uncle Tom’s story being inspiring, it has a tragic end where he dies while protecting fellow slaves. This happens just as his former masters, as well as his wife, are in the process of freeing him. On the bright side, his family unites and migrates to Liberia with other freed slaves. Ida’s story, however, was comical and had a happy ending. She survived the war, gained freedom, and made lifelong friendship with her masters.
- George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972-79).
- Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Tauchnitz, 1852.