The American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, is famous, or rather infamous, for satirically criticizing the values of society while demonstrating human nature through his characters. His novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is no exception. There is a warning at the beginning of the novel to not try to find a motive, a moral or a plot.
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons; attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. (p1, Twain)
In this passage the Chief of Ordinance, G.G. implies that anyone attempting to analyze the novel ,that anyone trying to find a deeper meaning in the novel, will be punished. Despite the humorous warning, it is evident that Twain utilizes his central character’s struggles in a complex world to reveal elements of human nature and the values of the society of his era. Twain uses his character’s struggles to demonstrate the human nature of companionship in order to criticize one of society’s values of his era: racism.
Jim is an excellent example of how Twain demonstrates human nature. Jim is a black slave from the fictional town of St. Petersburg Missouri, who decides to run away from his owner, Miss Watson, for fear of being sold down south to New Orleans. Jim encounters Huckleberry Finn, who is also running away, and the two quickly develop a bond as they were able to relate to each other. Jim is a black slave, someone’s property, and Huck comes from the lowest level of white society. Jim and Huck’s friendship demonstrates the human nature of companionship.
“Well, I did. I said I wouldn’t, and I’ll stick to it. Honest injun, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum-but that don’t make no difference. I ain’t a-going to tell, and I ain’t a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le’s know all about it.” (p56)
In this passage, Huck keeps his promise to Jim to not tell anyone about Jim running away, even though he knows that it is against society’s values. Huck knows that people would call him a “low-down abolitionist” and that people would “despise” him. Huck is willing to do this because he regards Jim as an equal because of their similar circumstances and their similar objectives; they are both neglected by society and they are both running away from it. This demonstrates the human nature of companionship as humans tend to develop bonds with people similar to themselves and Jim and Huck are able to quickly develop an empathetic bond because of their similarities.
In the novel, Mark Twain also uses Jim to criticize societal values of his era, most namely: racism. Jim is a slave and his fate is controlled by his owner. Even though he is treated “pooty rough” (p56); he is still afraid of being sold down south to New Orleans to work in a plantation because he would be separated from his family. This shows the hypocrisy and the moral...