Huckleberry Finn: Friendships Despite Racism And Slavery

1730 words - 7 pages

“He ain’t no slave; he’s as free as any cretur that walks this earth!” (Twain289). Tom Sawyer, one of the main characters in Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, said these words in defense of his friend Jim, when someone tried to return this once-enslaved man back to his former obligations. This classical novel is about a young boy named Huck, and a runaway slave named Jim. Huck escaped his town and ran off with Jim, traveling along the Mississippi River. They confronted many obstacles that forced them to work together and eventually brought them closer in the end. Throughout the novel, there were many events that made Huck treat Jim more like a loyal friend than a runaway slave. Mark Twain uses this device to civilize the discrimination of slaves during this time period.
The treatment of Jim from Tom and Huck is much different in the beginning of the novel versus at the end. In the beginning, they treated him very poorly because he was in fact an African American runaway slave and racism was a huge issue at the time. When Jim and Huck initially met up and Huck heard his story about running away, Jim says “but mind, you said you wouldn’t tell - you know you said you wouldn’t tell, Huck” (Twain43) and Huck replies with “people would call me a low down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum” (Twain43). This indicates that Huck is worried about what other people would say and think if they knew he was running off with a slave, because it troubles the moral ethical system that he grew up around. Throughout their journey together down the Mississippi River, Huck also played a few cruel tricks on Jim, further showing the mistreatment involved. One trick that he played involved putting a dead snake next to Jim while he was sleeping, but his mate turned up and actually bit Jim in the leg. Huck says “that all comes of my being such a fool as to not remember that wherever you leave a dead snake its mate always comes there and curls around it” (Twain53) and realizes his stupidity for playing a prank on Jim. Huck also gets into an intellectual conversation with Jim about King Solomon and says “I never see such a nigger” (Twain79). He gets so irritated with Jim’s stupidity, which is not a matter of age and experience, only race. Jim has never had the opportunity to go to school and learn like Huck has, but he doesn’t distinguish this simply because he’s an African American slave.
Towards the middle and end of Huckleberry Finn, the treatment of Jim altered because Huck and Tom started to treat and see him as a man instead of a runaway slave and respects him. For example, Huck says “All, right, then, I’ll go to hell,” (Twain215) meaning that Huck is willing to sacrifice himself in order to do what’s right. This is a turning point in the novel because it’s a true realization of humanity to Huck he starts to see Jim as the same as everyone else, if not better, and maybe even a friend. Another example of changed behavior towards Jim is...

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