Dynamic Character In A Stagnant Time

776 words - 4 pages

Mark Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn took place during a tense period in U.S. history. Heated debate over the morality of slavery had sparked and deep divisions were emerging between the northern and southern states. Born in Missouri, a slave state, the novel’s protagonist Huckleberry Finn was raised on values of racism and prejudice. He adhered to these principles as they were all he knew. However, over the course of his journey, Huck’s formerly provincial morality was challenged by his real-world experiences, and he was forced to derive a new set of morals for himself. At the start of the novel, a blind acceptance of slavery was present in Huck’s mind. This was revealed when Huck thought, in reference to Jim’s plan to free his children, “Here was this nigger, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children – children that belonged to a man I didn’t even know; a man that hadn’t ever done me no harm” (137). Although grateful for Jim’s companionship and reluctant to report him to the authorities, Huck still believed slavery to be a moral practice. As evidenced by this thought process, Huck held on to the values of the slave-owning states in the south, believing that Jim’s children, as slaves, were property. He even felt remorseful at the thought of a man’s slaves being stolen. Regardless of his budding friendship with Jim, Huck was still concretely in favor of slavery. This static view on slavery wavered as Huck began to think of Jim as a human rather than a piece of property. This newfound respect was described by Huck after learning of Jim’s deep sorrow at the loss of his family. Huck wrote, “He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home before in his life; and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It doesn’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so” (225-226). Huck was shocked by the depth of Jim’s emotional pain; this contradicted the pro-slavery idea that black slaves were...

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