Harriet's layout of The Two Alters is basically that the stories are divided into two parts. They each tell of the stories of two families that go through a difficult time.
The first story talks of liberty. There is a young boy and his sister that are on their way collect wood chips and the young boy gets caught up in wanting to play. He claims that he is only trying to do the same that his father is doing in the war, which is place the American flag on a hill top. He does this and then goes back home where he comes to find out that the family must send items to the soldiers. The whole family is devastated, but happy at the same time because the man of their family is helping fight the war. They all collect stockings and blankets so that they will be sent off to the soldiers.
This shows the patriotism and loyalty that the people had for their country at the time. The mother could be seen as a hero herself because she has to sacrifice her husband and maybe even her sons because of the war. The children do not understand what is truly going on, but they think that they must follow what their parents have done because it will bring great things for them as well.
In the second alter of the story it starts out with a colored family getting ready to receive their father in their happy home. They have prepared a great and luxurious dinner and wait anxiously. Once the father, George, arrives at the home, they all sit and talk about how well they are doing economically and emotionally. They have dinner and make plans for the family's future, but it all gets interrupted by an unexpected visit of the police. The police take George away and only say that he is a run away slave that is going to be taken back and sold to slavery. The family is dumbfounded and only say that George has been free for ten years, but its not enough for the police men that take no consideration for them.
The family gets split apart as well as all their dreams and plans. The story itself shows how the people still maintained their hatred towards the colored people and how no one ever had true consideration for them. The two alters are a complete contradiction of each other and they show both sides of the reality that the people had to live through in the late 70's.
Having to be placed in either situation could have been very difficult, but in the first alter, I think that the family placed themselves in that situation and had it easier on them when compared to the family of the second alter. Every story had their twist to them, but I think Stowe was trying to show everyone that not everything in society is morally right.