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Jane Smiley Is Wrong Essay

770 words - 4 pages

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so titled because it depicts the adventures of a thirteen year old boy, traveling on the Mississippi River, on a raft, who also happens to be with a runaway slave. It is not the story of the relationship between the ex-slave, Jim, and Huck. Jane Smiley makes major accusations; to the point the novel should be called “The Moral Pilgrimage and Relationship Building Journey of Huck and Jim,” which is not nearly as catchy as the original title. Smiley is wrong to assume Huck’s social maturity should be higher, and that he is responsible for Jim. Smiley apparently does not “hold any grudges against Huck…,” but rather “…Mark Twain, who knew how to give Huck a voice but didn’t know how to give him novel.” She argues that Jim’s freedom is not possible. Twain only knew the Mississippi River, and authors usually only write what they know. To have Huck and Jim sail down the Ohio, would have both ended the novel, but also take away from the “artistic integrity” of Twain. On the Mississippi, Huck can have has adventures, which is Twain’s purpose of the novel. Smiley claims “It is with the feud that the novel begins to fail…” She believes that these episodes are merely distractions. Distractions from the book’s true purpose: “Huck’s affection for and responsibilities to Jim.” They are not. They are adventures, which is what the title says they are. Jim does not go with Huck on these adventures. He stays on the raft, and is removed from the story. Smiley assumes this to symbolize Jim’s insignificance to Huck. But, perhaps logic should come before symbolic recognition. This book takes place during times of slavery. Huck is a white boy; he can roam the country freely. Jim is black. He could not venture so far, so easily. For him to leave the safety of the raft would be suicide. When Jim finally does come back into the story, he is betrayed by the Duke and Dauphin and sold. Smiley says, “…neither [Huck] nor Twain has come up with a plan that would have saved Jim in the end. Tom Sawyer does that.” Well my first...

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