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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay

Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a well known masterpiece of classical literature – it tells a story of a young boy, who travels on a raft down the Mississippi river together with a slave, who escaped from his owner. Their relations are fascinating, unusual, sometimes comic and really profound emotionally. Even if to consider Huckleberry Finn to be the main hero, the role of Jim’s hero should not be underestimated. In reality this would be hard to imagine the whole story without “Miss Watson’s big nigger, named Jim…”.

Jim can be easily called the father of Huck, as he took care of the boy both physically and emotionally and could be the only example for the young boy to follow.

From the very beginning the black companion of Huck seems to be too simple and obsessed with superstitious ideas; later however, readers meet a kind hearted and intelligent man in the person of Jim, who possesses a profound understanding of the natural world around him and deep feeling of responsibility for the boy. Probably if he weren’t separated from his beloved family, he would never take a risk to run away from Miss Watson. Thus he can not be considered either a criminal or a vagabond.

Jim became a very close and caring friend for Huck, he cooked for him, helped to make the boy comfortable during the trip, was never importunate in spite of his bigger life experience. One of the major drawbacks that Jim’s hero has according to some critics, is his passive attitude to things around; this is however easily explained by the real situation Jim finds himself in – his life depends too much on other characters of the novel, including a teenager boy, like for example in the case with the letter, which Huck was going to send to Miss Watson. On the other hand this is quite natural, that Jim is very much concerned about the outcomes of his deeds and even experiences fear sometimes. This however never changed his attitude to his young friend and he always remained loyal and caring towards him. The readers feel sympathy with Jim, as in presentation of other characters of the novel the real feelings and concerns of Jim are of minor importance and should hardly be taken into consideration, because his life is “lesser and trivial”, however he never lost his positive world view and always remained kind to everybody, irrespectively of the way they treated him (Chadwick-Joshua, 23). These qualities that Jim possessed made him even more heroic and worthy man.

Readers are also able to see the clear contrast between the “comfort”, provided by Jim for the boy, who catches fish and builds “a snug wigwam [on the raft] to get under in blazing weather and rainy” (Twain, 48) to the cabin of Huck’s father – “he has to stop up the holes to keep the wind from blowing through the chinks and putting the candle out” (Twain, 18-19).

The fact, that Jim is only a black slave makes it difficult for Jim to really take care of the boy and to protect him not only from bad weather, but also from other people like Pap, but Jim did his best: he tells lies to the King and Duke and prepares the raft for return escape to the river.

Huck, who was not used to hearing nice words, who was abused by his own father and scolded by Miss Watson, soon also learns to appreciate the attitude of Jim, who “would always call [him] honey, and pet [him]” (161). Also from Jim Huck learns the moral rules, which should be followed in various life situations. The corruption and brutality of the surrounding world were constantly contrasted to Jim’s views, attitudes, behavior – “”through Jim’s sensitivity [that] the entire Wilks episode is thrown into much more precise focus” (Cox, 65).

Jim has also impact upon the moral decisions of Huck –“Jim’s function… has been to test… Huck’s growing moral strength and mature independence” (Chadwick-Joshua, 39). Jim turned out to be the first person in the whole world, who spoke openly about the real meaning of loyalty, friendship, love and responsibility with the boy. When Huck apologized to Jim this was also the moment of complete acceptance of the moral views, advocated by the black slave.

Friendship and communication with Jim were the main forces for development of Huck’s moral views and his moral growth. “When Huck remembers their friendship, and couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me [Huck] against him, but only the other kind, he makes the decision to “go to hell” (Cox, 69). It took time before Huck realized, that Jim was also a personality, not depending on the color of his skin; he became aware of the fact, that humanity of somebody can not be diminished either by color of the skin or by some other factor, important is only what is inside a man’s soul, Huck said “I knowed he was white inside”, meaning, that Jim was a human as well other white people, but with a deeper emotional and spiritual world. Huck also understands, that the color of the skin can not alter the inside world of a person, he learned, that Jim “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, 83).

“Jim represents slavery the major theme of the novel, is forgiving, and kind, however this makes him a heroic character” (Cox, 72).At the same time the role of the father is perfectly played by Jim, who was able to take the responsibility of psychical, emotional and spiritual development of the boy, which makes him very important hero of the story, and not a simple example of an oppressed and suffering black slave. The character of Jim, created by the author doesn’t allow the novel to belong to just a piece of adventure fiction; unusually and subtly the author was able to discuss numerous moral problems, not only concentrating on a problem of slavery, but creating a significant novel about humanity.

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