Reading Response: Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin)
I am gaining a perspective on life and on people that I have been partly missing because of the way my attention has been guided to focus as a biologically- and socially-gendered male.
1 November 2005
Reading Response: Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
There is nothing in the parts of the text assigned for today that stand out to me as “not ‘good’ writing.” I notice, rather, that there are multiple instances where I find myself saying, “Wow, good, I haven’t come across this before.” The particular qualities that come to mind when I consider what I have read of Stowe are variety and insight. An aspect of these qualities that is perhaps of more value to me than to others is that her work suggests she is both a keen observer and thinker and a woman. In the reading so far, I feel I am gaining a perspective on life and on people that I have been partly missing because of the way my attention has been guided to focus as a biologically- and socially-gendered male.
The passage that most inspired me to write that thesis is where she introduces Rachel Halliday. The phrases, “Her face was round and rosy, with a healthful downy softness, suggestive of a ripe peach,” and the earlier statement of her theme, “. . . hers was one of those faces that time seems to touch only to brighten and adorn,” are the foundations of an image that has stayed with me since I first read the text, two weekends ago (2570). I know what Stowe is referring to—I have recently seen such smooth, round, and radiant skin on a man over sixty, and thought to myself, “how amazing,” and mentioned this to a friend. I may have said the word “beautiful” in describing this, but, on some level, I stopped short of wholly embracing the experience of his face as beauty. “So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why don’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?” brings Stowe’s point home (2570). In today’s usage her grammar is unusual, but so are Stowe’s contractions. In fact, the whole description of the Quaker home has levels and elements that suggest a (modern western European) female-gendered mind—a mind that not only is not hindered in appreciating as beautiful domestic life, but that believes it should. The description of Eliza in bed, dreamily aware of household activity, and the description of breakfast and its preparations, both appreciate more thoroughly than I have aspects of experience I am fortunate to be able to relate to.
At another point in her variety range are Stowe’s dialogues, which go far toward portraying much about the character who is speaking, beyond simply advancing the plot. And there is the variety in the action. Eliza’s sprint across the ice floes is the other moment that stands out in my mind as most calling for further savoring and examination.
By my standards, then, Stowe’s writing is good. She creates a world in text that is compelling to explore, helping me see things not only in the world of her text, but in the world outside of it, that I would not have otherwise seen or seen so well.