NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reading Notes

"There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for others; whose earthly hopes laid in the grave with many tears, are the seed from which spring healing flowers and balm for the desolate and the distressed." The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin, p. 96.

How beautiful is that? I'll bet I read that sentence twenty times before I continued the chapter. I am loving Uncle Tom's Cabin, even if it is difficult to read. It is difficult for me to read because I have such a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of slavery and the belief that slave-owning was a perfectly acceptable way of life. People justified it with passages from the Bible. Families were blithely torn apart. Children were sold away from their mothers and that was okay. People believed that black people didn't have feelings the way white people did. Yeah. I have a really hard time grasping that.

I'm listening to Richard Wright's Native Son also. Native Son is the story Bigger Thomas, a young black man in 1930's Chicago. It is interesting to compare the literary form of the slave experience and the free but pre-Civil Rights black experience side-by-side. So much is different, but so much is the same -- the anger and hatred of some black people and the acquiescence of others to their situation, the prejudice and hypocrisy of some whites and the true sympathy and assistance of others. The people that I find the most frustrating are the ones who think they're sympathetic and helpful but really are only perpetuating the belief system. For example, the sobbing slave owner pledges to someday buy back the slave that is being sold to a creditor because they don't want the slave treated badly any longer than necessary. The rich white girl talks about how black people should be treated with respect, but she goes on to treat her family's black driver like a favorite pet or a newly discovered species.

I have enormous respect for those who fought for their rights -- men, women, minorities, all of them. I can't imagine living in the world of Uncle Tom or Bigger Thomas.


Ladytink_534 said...

Oh it's been almost 10 years since I first read Uncle Tom's Cabin! I still remember how much I enjoyed it the first time. It's just written so beautifully even if it is difficult to read.

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ The copy I'm reading is from the library, but I will be adding this to my permanent library. It's a wonderful book!


Anonymous said...

I read Uncle Tom's Cabin years ago. My memory is that it's a lovely book and that I couldn't believe how dreadful slavery was and that they found justification in the Bible for it - I've since realised there is! I'd like to find time to read it again. Thanks for your reminder of a good book. I don't know Native Son, but it sounds equally challenging.

Lezlie said...

Books Please ~ What I find interesting is that most, if not all, of their claimed biblical justification comes from the Old Testament even though Christianity is based in belief in the New Testament. "Native Son" is a harsh read. I really like it, but it is not a happy book. It's very, very bleak and angry. It puts you right there in Bigger's mind and makes you very uncomfortable. I'd love to see your thoughts if you read it!


Jo-Jo said...

To think how far we have come in our society truly is amazing!

Lezlie said...

Jo-Jo ~ It really is! I have to keep that in mind when I'm hearing some people whose views have not evolved quite so admirably. :-)