This essay examines the relationship between actual crows and the Jim Crow figure in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. Building on recent work on race and animal studies, the essay argues that Stowe's racialist assumptions about the innate ability of black people to commune with nature allow her to imagine an end to slavery that is inspired by non-human animals. Stowe draws on the demonstrated intelligence and trickster legend of crows in her depictions of "Jim Crow" characters—rebellious black slaves, whom she explicitly links with various kinds of black birds, and who appear subservient but are more subversive than meets the eye. She also uses a cunning crow that lives on a plantation and wreaks havoc on its inhabitants to unite notions of animality and rebellion and to emphasize the parallels between keeping an undomesticated animal as a pet and a person as a slave. This essay in the end suggests that Stowe's racialism, evolved from Uncle Tom's Cabin, serves as a way for her to endorse smaller forms of slave rebellion instead of the violent revolution the title character Dred desires but does not carry out by the end of the novel.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 237-257
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.