Huck Finn Essay

1247 words - 5 pages

In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain satirizes the hypocritical and ridiculous characteristics of society. He uses four characters to create a comparison between society's viewpoint and the ethical viewpoint. Huck and Jim represent the castaways of society while their opposites characterize society's stereotypes.Literature usually depicts slaves as uncivilized, brutal, ruthless, and worthless creatures. Twain, however, diverts from that belief and glorifies Jim, the slave, bringing down Pap, the white man, through their juxtaposition. Pap symbolizes cruelty and ruthlessness through his abusive tirades while Jim symbolizes the compassionate father figure that Pap should be. White men, like Pap, consider blacks to be the most uncivilized and incompetent people, when it is really those same white men who are what they proclaim others to be. For example, when Pap first sees Huck he states "You've put on considerable frills…" (14), referring to Huck's new clothes and education. Pap attacks Huck for having "considerable frills" (14), being a civilized, well-dressed, and educated young man. It's ironic that Pap holds Huck's education and looks against him; a father should be proud of his son, but Pap's cursing just establishes him as a heartless man who views his son as a means of acquiring money for alcohol. Through detail Twain showcases Pap's uncivilized characteristics, which include beating and abusing Huck or cursing government. He reveals Pap in detail to satirize the stereotypical white man who cannot change his beliefs. Pap symbolizes a white man with every opportunity to better his life but one who refuses it repeatedly; instead gets drunk and beats his son. He represents the worst of society as the embodiment of the typical white man who is brutal, hateful, and racist. Twain furthers his criticism of slavery through Jim's character. Where Pap's character is horrendous, Jim is absolutely wonderful. Although Jim is black he cares for Huck as much as he cares about his own children. For example, the reader can finally see Jim's love for Huck when the fog separates them. When Jim realizes that Huck played a trick on him he hysterically cries, "En when I wake up en fine you back agin', all safe en soun', de tears come en I could a got down on my knees en kiss you' foot I's so thankful" (65). Through this event the reader understands that Jim truly cares for Huck because he shows so much joy and happiness when he sees him (unlike Pap who starts to criticize Huck at first sight). Furthermore, through his love Jim is also viewed as a human being with emotions, unlike the uncivilized Neanderthals that white men see. Jim really has no bad bone in his body; considering that Huck is a little boy yet he readily believes his lie, he would also sacrifice himself for Huck if needed. Twain portrays Jim as a person who continually strives to protect Huck, always willing to suffer himself. Twain satirizes the concept that a slave is merely...

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