One of Stowe’s most dynamic traits as an author is her ability to convey seemingly disconnected forms of conflict as intertwined entities. For example, though Tom and George could not possess more opposite temperaments, it seems obvious to the naked eye why their narratives could be related: they are both slaves who desire freedom. However, by placing these two characters in completely different settings, Stowe wants the reader to feel conflicted.
Tom, on the one hand, is an integral part of Augustine St. Clare’s religious rebirth after his daughter’s death. St. Clare had always treated his servants with integrity and respect, and though he harbored deep-seated disgust for the almost identical English-Aristocratic society that had taken over in America, he agreed with his brother Alfred’s views that slaves in America were better off than the lower classes in England were. Before his quasi-rebirth*, St. Clare notes that until the white man willingly ‘dines with’ and shares the same sense of freedom and humanity as his slaves, there will be no reconciling the two races. St. Clare notices himself admiring and loving Tom after Eva’s death in a deeper way than his regular master-slave fashion, claiming that “there was nothing that seemed to remind him so much of Eva” (313). Through this admittance, St. Clare reevaluates his perceptions of religious manifestation in the human body. He adopts Eva’s views that slaves are also God’s children, and it would be un-Christian to persecute them for their different appearances or practices. St. Clare observes how Tom is capable of adopting the laws of Scripture in his everyday life in a more committed and pious fashion that many of the white American preachers, who use the Bible to falsely justify their selfish greed. Tom is a driving force in Stowe’s central message to her readers at the time of the book’s publication: that slavery could only be abolished from the top down, and that it would take a complete upheaval of the cruelest slave-owners’ values to eliminate the wretched practice.
George is another driving force in this elimination of Aristocratic influence in America, but balances out Tom’s pious nature with a display of physical courage. George represents what can be done in this world by debunking the “different species” theory that many slave owners adopted to justify their actions. Stowe is commenting on how while Christianity plays an important role in changing the system, there must be agents of reform that carry out meaning of the Scripture by providing evidence of equality. George asks the skeptical Mr. Wilson: “why am I not a man, as much as anybody” (117)? Through his appeal to Wilson’s religious integrity, George convinces him that as long as he can think and act like a white man, he will fight for his freedom.
By pledging to fight for his freedom rather than reform the defunct Christian beliefs of slave-owners, George seems to differ greatly from Tom. However, by making them adopt different approaches to eliminating the “slave-ocracy”, Stowe is asserting that it will take an effort in the temporal/physical world to break down the barriers that prevent inequality as much as it will take a religious appeal from the top down to eliminate the deeply entrenched notions of superiority that continue to plague our society.