I enjoyed reading “the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” during my English class. The novel is about a young boy, Huck, searching of freedom and adventure. Through all the journeys in river, he meets Jim, and they become good at friends. From Jim, Huck learns a lot of lessons to improve himself as a decent person. Their friendship is so precious in the novel. Some say that there was deep racism with discrimination between black people and white people in the novel.
Furthermore, some claim that the novel shows their discrimination to black slaves without sensing the slave’s humanity. However, the liberty, humanity, and respectability of black people are identified by the relationship between Huck and Jim. In “Selling Huck Finn down the river: A response to Jane Smiley”, Seymour Chwast demonstrates that Jim is a typical black character as “ignorant, superstitious, and passive” and exposes the racism in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Jim’s superstitions sometimes lead to the essences of silliness .
From this perspective, Jim seems stupid and ignorant, because he believes in some foolish superstitions that do not make sense at all. For example, Jim say that Huck killing a spider that would bring bad luck , and the hair-ball used to tell fates . Jim‘s superstitions slightly portray him as an inactive and stubborn slave. Jim is also considered as an object which can be sold and bought by the white people in the novel. According to this view, racism is clearly exposed through Jim.
In “ Say it ain’t so,Huck:Second thoughts on Mark Twain ‘s masterpiece”, Jane Smiley states that the word “nigger” is used over and over by Huck to call Jim. To this point, I think he means the white man such as Huck, or even Twain doesn’t feel sorry or have any excuse for prejudice against black people. Huck is a white person, and he was raised in white society, so he believes that black people were lower than white people. For instance, Huck used Jim’s status as a black slave against Jim in arguments over why French people speak differently than Americans.
The use of word “nigger” is pointed out by readers who sense that Twain use the word too much or too freely. The readers feel uncomfortable when they clearly see the unfairness of Twain putting on character Jim, because Twain doesn’t really care about Jim’s aspiration for freedom in the introduction of the novel. In the other hand, some say that Twain is not a racist novelist because he uses Huck to get back the justice for Jim in later chapters of the novel. In the novel, we can clearly see Huck was against his society to help Jim escape.
Huck knows that he is doing wrong according to the view of the whole society , but he does not care about that and keeps helping Jim until the end. My own view is that Huck has a pure heart, so he can easily see the injustice in his society. Chwast also claims , “Huck’s recognition of Jim’s humanity and dignity” to supports this view with his satisfaction . Huck slowly realized that Jim is as smart as the white people with his profound knowledge about the world. At first, his superstitions seemed to be foolish, but later it became true to the fact of the world.
For example, Jim predicted that the bad luck would come to them after Huck killed the snake, and he was right about that, because the dead snake’s friend revenged for its friend by biting Jim. Jim used his comprehension to benefit both, and he rejected to let Huck see the body in the floating house, because that body is the body of Huck’s father. I think Jim is a kind-hearted person by caring and protecting Huck through that moment. He acted as a role of the father caring for his son. Therefore, Huck slowly admitted that Jim is an honest, moral and intelligent person.
Their friendship became closer. Some say that their friendship is the foundation to break race barriers in the novel. According to this view, Jim shows the faithfulness to Huck in chapter fifteen. For example , Jim showed his happiness at seeing Huck alive after they are separated by fog. It is apparent that Jim will sacrifice himself to ensure Huck’s safety. However, Huck in that moment still had been thinking kind of unequal treatment against Jim. . Huck in that moment was not able to sacrifice himself to Jim’s safety.
In fact, Huck deceived Jim about his dream that they were apart by fog. Later, Jim found out the truth that Huck had tricked him by seeing the leaves and rubbish on the raft. From that moment, Huck felt guilty for making Jim feel so bad . As Huck himself put it, “It made me feel so mean I could almost kiss his foot to get him to take it back. ” In my own view, I think kissing Jim foot is a sign of apology. After that incident, I think Huck started to be aware about Jim’s feeling. He would never call Jim by the word” nigger” again and do such bad things to hurt Jim’s feeling .
Smiley also gives credit to Huck by praising Huck ‘s recognition of Jim ‘s humankind and self respect that makes their friendship so cherished to transform the racism inside Huck to love and scarification for Jim’s safety later. To this point , readers think Huck no longer had the prejudice to Jim, and Huck did something against racism that would help Jim be free. , Huck can see the true equalities between white people and black people, regardless of what he may have been taught by society.
Overall, I believe that Huck has a better understanding of race than the society around him, because he finally realized that what he did is not against the justice, fairness and equality. Huck gives the readers a view into that is against white American view about racism. The white man will help the black man if he deserves it. The black man will find a justice if he acts as good as Jim. There is a question against this perspective: what would have happened if Jim did not have a good personality? Did Huck company with Jim all the way and sacrifice himself to help Jim get back the freedom?
Overall, some readers have judged Jim as being too passive in the beginning of the novel, but he remains all kinds of kindness than other characters in the novel. Jim can be described as a very decent person with a good personality who provides a practical and decent example for Huck to improve himself. Thus, Twain successfully uses the relationship between Huck and Jim to expose the racism against black people in the nineteen century. Therefore, the novel is a great novel that allows young people to see racism and learn how and why it is wrong.
Courtney from Study Moose
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