Huck Finn Essay

Submitted By jhnpietro
Words: 1239
Pages: 5

Things Are Not Always Black And White

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the main character and protagonist Huckleberry Finn and his black, ex-slave friend Jim work together to escape the south by traveling down the Mississippi river. Their journey takes unexpected twists and turns that show Jim’s true characteristics. Contrary to the views of the period, Jim, a black freed slave, is not a heartless, mindless animal. He is a caring individual, who is just as human as Huck. Over the course of the novel, Huck is affected and changed by Jim, making him see Jim, and the world, in a different light. Instead of a laborer and worker, Jim becomes a friend, a mentor, and most importantly a Father Figure. These characteristics, revealed to Huck over the course of the novel, humanize him, and guide him to maturity. In order to shape Jim into a round and dynamic character, Twain must first dispel the racist stereotypes of the time. To do this he puts the duo through a series of obstacles in order to show the human characteristics of Jim, to Huck. First, in the beginning of the novel, Twain describes Jim thinking about his family and Huck’s reaction too it. The reason for Jim’s escape is his wish to provide for his family. He wants to be able to provide a better life for them. However, he is understandably distraught about leaving them behind. This is the first occurrence that opens Huck’s eyes to the possibility that this man was not just an unfeeling slave. Maybe black people do feel and understand emotion, which confuses Huck. According to the stereotypes of the time, Black people did not understand the concept of family or feeling. Whites believed that they were just animals to be used and could not comprehend complex ideas. The fact that Jim feels for his family begins to change Huck’s View of the world, as he thinks to himself, “and i do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so" (Twain, 23). Jim’s emotions begin to expand Huck’s view from what he was taught, to what he is experiencing. He is beginning to realize that these people he was taught were below him, actually had emotions as he does. After exposing Jim’s emotional side to Huck, Twain then develops their relationship, Evolving it first from a dominant figure and slave relationship, to an equal friendship, and even farther, to a father-son relationship. As Huck and Jim sail down the river, they happen upon a house floating by. They choose to explore it, and find a dead body, later revealed to be pap, Huck’s father. Instead of letting Huck see his dead father, Jim tells Huck to close his eyes as he takes care of the body. This shows compassion and awareness, traits said to be absent in blacks. As described in the following, "It's a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He's ben shot in de back. I reck'n he's ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan' look at his face—it's too gashly." (Twain, 9). After this ordeal Huck actually listens to Jim’s advice, and values his opinion. This is the opposite of the social norm of the time. He has begun to change and forget his past teachings and chooses to trust his instincts. He is learning to view people as people, and not judge by ethnicity or race. This is a huge step in humanizing Huck. The final event that totally changes Huck’s view of the world involves a prank he pulls on Jim. In a lapse of maturity and ignoring his experiences prior to this, Huck chooses to pull a prank on Jim. In doing this he reverts back to his immature childish self, and goes back to his old beliefs. Huck decides to convince Jim that he is dreaming, and events that had come to pass weren’t real. Eventually Jim believes that Huck is dead, and then Huck reveals his joke. Jim does not become upset at Huck, mostly as a result of beliefs of the time. However he does express disappointment in Huck, telling him how worried he was and how bad he felt. After