Color Blind Essay

1485 words - 6 pages

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a controversial American novel due to its uncensored depiction of racist Southern antebellum society. The novel follows a white protagonist named Huckleberry Finn and his runaway slave friend, Jim, as they adventure down the Mississippi River. Twain characterizes Jim as a typical uneducated, unsophisticated slave who is merely a piece of property, in order to expose the reality of slavery in the antebellum period. However, by also giving Jim a paternal role and humane qualities, Twain uses the character of Jim and his relationship with Huck to convey that slaves were humane people, despite how they were viewed and treated at the time.
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Jim models his selflessness when he is “roped up all day” (171). He is then dressed up in a “long curtain- calico gown, white horse- hair whiskers” and had been painted a “dead dull solid blue, like a man that’s been drownded nine days” (171). Jim tells these superstitious tales as if he is “most ruined, for a servant, because he got so stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches” (19). He is inherently innocent in a way that Huck and others in the story aren’t which further exemplifies his character. Despite Jim’s shortcomings, Huck still considers him as his friend when white people would not even associate themselves with blacks; this is Twain’s way of conveying that blacks were capable of being equals despite the stereotypes in 1840.
Although it may appear as a stereotype, Jim’s character is then depicted as humane??? into a real person human??? Twain’s description of Jim is realistic of a typical slave raised in the South at that time, so essentially, Twain is providing a historically accurate description of a slave, and he should not be labeled a racist for doing so. Twain portrays Jim as a deeply compassionate and undyingly loyal friend to Huck, perhaps the only person Huck can rely on confidently throughout the whole novel. Throughout the novel it is obvious the “pathos and dignity of Jim” (T.S. Eliot 351). For Jim to be the “sidekick [who] never minds” to Huck is not what makes him “pathetic” rather it makes Jim human in the way that at the end Jim will have a friendship (Jane Smiley 357). He is the only figure who is constantly there for Huck and never abandons him. Jim is even depicted as a father figure to Huck, who does not have a dependable and affectionate father. It is Jim who is the “responsible adult and caring parent” (Toni Morrison 389). Huck believes that “Jim had a wonderful level head, for a nigger: he could most always start a good plan when you wanted one” (97). Jim’s shows sympathy towards Huck and is willing to serve as a paternal figure to someone who is not even truly his son. In addition to being there to protect Huck physically, Jim also protects Huck emotionally by not allowing Huck to see the dead body, which turns out to be Huck’s father. “Jim keeps silent practically four-fifths of the book about having seen Pap’s course” “there seems no reason for this withholding except his concern for Huck’s emotional well-being” (Toni Morrison 390).He saves Huck from having this image forever in his head and haunting him. Jim’s paternal instincts and protective shield over Huck prove he is compassionate and capable of emotion.
Twain creates Jim’s character not only to open Huck’s eyes to the reality about slavery, but also to open the reader’s eyes to the excessively racist environment of the 1840’s. Jim’s character reinforces stereotypes of slaves being childlike, simple, and uneducated but also breaks stereotypes held by Aunty Sally and the rest of society that black slaves were not people....

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