Slavery: Slavery in the United States and Jim Essay

Submitted By jhopki0531
Words: 733
Pages: 3

Slave Life in the 19th Century

In Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain is very anti-slavery. In this novel, he provides an allegory to explain how and why slavery is wrong; because life of a slave in the 19th century meant being separated from his/her families, constant racial torment followed by strenuous work, and the decision of whether or not to break free from the labor. But throughout the novel, slaves got treated lightly compared to real world.

Slaves often were separated from their families when being bought and sold. Men, women, and even children would be split up sometimes across country. In the novel, to prevent being sold and separated from his family, Jim runs away from his owner, Miss Watson, in hopes of freedom (Twain pg. 8). As a runaway slave, Jim is at risk of being caught and returned and being beaten. In the 19th century, individuals on the plantations would be forced to separate from their family and friends. Repeated separation from the time of capture in Africa to being sold off to fetch a good price, or to be disposed of in old age, added to the despair and isolation felt by enslaved Africans. (Hallam1). In the 19th century, some slaves used the courts to ensure the well being of family members, so if they were worried about their families while being separated, they could get the courts involved to also protect the families.

Slave life in the mid 19th century was focused on hard labor and racial torment through out the country. In Huck Finn, Jim was treated pretty fairly compared to most slaves in the 19th century. When Jim worked for Ms. Watson he was taken care of nicely and was allowed in places like her kitchen (Twain 9). He didn’t have vigorous labor like other slaves in the 19th century would. It was estimated in the early nineteenth century at less than six percent of the entire enslaved population, generally existed under more favorable conditions than their rural counterparts. "A city slave is almost a freeman, compared with a slave on the plantation" (Boston 1). The labor was unsanitary and unsafe. Officers were, Buchanan reports, "obsessed with labor discipline,” a discipline imposed not infrequently with violence. Working conditions were "horrible" and disease ever-present. In particular, black women working as chambermaids were at risk. (Mandle 1)

One of the hardest decisions about being an imprisoned slave is deciding whether or not breaking free from an owner is worth the risk of being caught. Jim put himself in a dangerous position by running away. He initially ran away so he could find freedom. At the end of the novel Huck has a choice: should Huck free Jim and then be condemned to hell? Or Turn him and lose a friend. If Jim were to be caught, a reward would have been…