What Would Mother Do?: Boys as Mothers in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin
Type of DegreeThesis
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Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ultimate goal in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is to create a matriarchal society of sons as mothers. By prolonging the differentiation stage in which the son will turn from the mother because she represents the gendered “other,” the mother ensures that her shared ego with the child will become the offspring’s only ego. As the son matures into a feminine identity characterized by the need to mother, he inevitably transforms into a mother. At this point in adulthood in which the son has entered the public sphere, any and all political and social conflicts will be resolved from a mother’s perspective. The son’s desire to nurture others as he has been nurtured is not only the answer to slavery’s atrocities: it is the groundwork for the feminization of the public sphere.