The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, has caused many controversies, especially over the issue of racism. The characters in Huck Finn and the development of these characters clearly take a strong stand against racism. Twain’s character, Jim, is the center of this controversy. Jim’s development, as well as Huck’s, and the growth of their relationship form the structure of the anti-racism message in this novel.
Twain’s introduction of Jim shows a slave, a “Big Nigger,” which Huck and Tom easily trick and make a fool of. Jim is shortly portrayed for a fool, and for an uneducated “typical” black man. When Jim meets up with Huck on Jackson Island, and he tells his story we learn that Jim does possess feelings and emotions. Jim has risked his life to be a free man and to work to get his wife and children to freedom. Jim’s development through the book is shown through Huck’s eye, a young white man, who has been taught that blacks are inferior and their purpose is to live as slaves. As the book goes on, Jim grows into a more “human” character, with feelings and a heart. The simple fact that we are seeing this through Huck’s eyes is a strong statement against racism alone.
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Huck’s development is another statement against racism. He is constantly growing and is forced to fight a battle inside himself. He must determine whether his mind is right and what he’s been taught to be true, or if what he feels in his heart is the real truth. We see Huck’s heart finally beat his mind and choice to go against what he was taught and do what felt right. “All right, then, I’ll go to hell. I might as well go the whole hog.” Huck decides to h lp Jim in escaping to freedom, even if it was against what he knew to be moral and right. This single act is yet another anti-racism statement Twain has weaved into his novel.
Lastly, not only as individual characters do Jim and Huck support anti-racism their relationship does as well. Huck and Jim are brought together by fate and are drawn to travel down the Mississippi river. This journey brings them closer together, and both through individual growth and growth in how they treat each other shows that blacks are equal and not inferior. As Huck and Jim travel down the Mississippi together a bond begins to grow. Jim and Huck become reliant on one another for safety, comfort and even to some degree love. Without even being aware of it, but by the median of their journey both Huck and Jim have become dependent on the other for survival. At one point while Huck’s conscience and heart are still battling, Huck plays a trick on Jim. Huck returns to the raft after being separated from Jim, and Jim is ecstatic to see Huck alive. “En when I wake up and find you back again, all safe en soun’, de tears come, en I could ‘a’got down on my knees en kiss yo’ foot, I’m so thankful.” Jim’s reaction makes Huck realize that Jim shouldn’t be treated poorly or at the expense of Huck’s entertainment. This is a monumental step and an example of how Huck comes to realize that Jim equal to him. Huck symbolizes the way all Americans, both then and now should think and act.
Twain’s approach to writing this novel is a very true and straightforward style. He tells it how it was and not how it should have been. Twain uses a young, confused boy on his journey to discover the truth about himself as well as the world to symbolize America and all of the people that live here. Jim and Huck grow and become closer together. Huck grows to understand that Jim is no different than him in the big picture. Huck and Jim’s relationship after Jim are given his freedom is undetermined, but the history and experiences they had on the river show a strong bond and connection. Overall the book’s “cover” may show sent of pro-racism, but we should never prejudge anything, whether it’s a book or an African-American. In other words, don’t always judge a book by its cover.
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