Posted by: tranalist | February 11, 2007

The power of love

As I’ve been reading through Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with the turn of every page, I find myself lost in thought, contemplating the profound messages hidden in the novel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 There is a picture that Stowe so beautifully portrays: the stigmatized contrast between black and white and how the innocent colorblind love of a child can heal years of damage.

“There sat the two children on the floor…Topsy, with her usual air of careless drollery and unconcern; but, opposite to her, Eva, her whole face fervent with feeling, and tears in her large eyes.

‘What does make you so bad, Topsy? Why won’t you try and be good? Don’t you love anybody, Topsy?’

‘Donno nothing ’bout love; I loves candy and sich, that’s all,’ said Topsy.

‘But Topsy, if you’d only try to be good, you might—-‘

‘Couldn’t never be nothin’ but a negro, if I was ever so good,’ said Tospy. ‘If I could be skinned, and come white, I’d try then.’

‘But people can love you, if you are black, Tospy. Miss Ophelia would love you, if you were good.’

Topsy gave the short, blunt laugh that was her common mode of expressing incredulity.

‘No; she can’t bar me, ’cause I’m a negro!–she’d’s soon have a toad touch her! There can’t nobody love negroes, and negroes can’t do nothin’! I don’t care,’ said Topsy, beginning to whistle.

‘O Topsy, poor child, I love you!’ said Eva, with a sudden burst of feeling, and laying her little thin, white hand on Topsy’s shoulder; ‘I love you, because you haven’t had any father, or mother, or friends;–because you’ve been a poor abused child! I love you…’

The round, keen eyes of the black child were overcast with tears;–large, bright drops rolled heavily down, one by one, and fell on the little white hand. Yes, in that moment, a ray of real belief, a ray of heavenly love, had penetrated the darkness of her heathen soul! She laid her head down between her knees, and wept and sobbed, –while the beautiful child, bending over her, looked like the picture of some bright angel stooping to reclaim a sinner.

‘Poor Topsy!’ said Eva, ‘don’t you know that Jesus loves all alike? He is just as willing to love you, as me. He love you just as I do,–only more, because He is better…”

‘O, dear Miss Eva, dear Miss Eva!’ said the child; ‘I will try, I will try; I never did care nothin’ ’bout it before.'”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I didn’t read this as a white child telling a black slave that she was loved…it means so much more than that. It is a picture of how authentic love can tear down years of protective walls, how pure love can reach deep into the soul of any hardened or jaded human being, how real love is what all people are looking for, how an earnest love can melt away anger, bitterness, disillusionment with life and give one hope, give one something to live for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In an instant, the love communicated through Eva’s voice, touch, and unabashed feelings, immediately began a transformation in Topsy’s life, a girl who had grown up with no parents, abusive “masters”, and had never known what it meant to be loved. In the end, it was unadulterated Love that got through Topsy’s impregnable heart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Interestingly, when Eva proposed that Topsy could be loved by Miss Ophelia with the stipulation that Topsy be good, Topsy was incredulous. Why? Because Miss Ophelia’s love came with conditions attached. Topsy had to earn her love, it wasn’t being given freely. How much of the love we give in our own lives comes with conditions? It was only when Topsy realized she was being loved unconditionally by Eva that Love mattered at all.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To me, Topsy is the image of all of us who have experienced hurt and pain in our lives, who may have had a difficult childhood that left our hearts cold and impenetrable. Our circumstances in life may improve, but the scars and damage have been done. They remain. Only can healing take place when  we experience that sort of unconditional love from someone who doesn’t have to love us, from a person who sees through our hurt and sees the person who we could be once we’ve been loved to wholeness. For the first time, there is someone who believes in us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 For me, this excerpt is a perfect image of Jesus Christ. His love is perfect, given freely. It has healing power. He sees only the diamonds amidst all the rough. Because of His perfect love, I am a healed person. I wish that we were all able to give of ourselves the way that Eva did, the way that Christ does…to look at people and see, not only what they once were, but also what they can be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But to do so requires us to give of ourselves, manifested in our time, energy, and emotions (another topic explored in the novel). But all of these are things that people hesitate to give. Why? Is the investment too large? Or do we think that we cannot affect change in the world because we are a just one person?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     It’s an interesting subject matter to me.


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