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Analysis Of Huck And Jim Essay Research

Analysis Of Huck And Jim Essay, Research Paper

Analysis of Huck and Jim

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has two key characters, one is the slave Jim, the other; the protagonist

Huck. Jim and Huck could each be considered the key characters for different reasons; Jim as he is the main

representative of the typical slave (slavery being the most important theme of this novel) and Huck for he is the

main storyteller.

Jim is an important character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and without him the novel would be

ineffectual. However, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel about the adventures of the protagonist Huck

and it is more likely that the key character of this novel is Huck because we see everything from his view.

In a novel which is written as a satiric social comment upon the southern states of America, Jim’s role as the

manifestation of slavery must be a key one. Incidents in which Jim interacts with other characters and their reactions

to him are meant to symbolize the wider society’s opinions on slaves and the practice of slavery.

Jim is a heroic figure in a book whose main characters consist of liars, cheats, and scoundrels. Jim always does

the right thing if he can, he always feels empathy for others even if those people show no such emotions for him.

The incident at the end of the novel when he saves Tom and risks what he believes to be his own freedom is a case

in point.

We empathize with Jim because even though other characters suggest that his feelings are least important, whose

life is lesser, whose existence is trivial, he manages to stay cheerful and even kind to those who treat him in this

manner. This quality makes him even more heroic for he is a figure who turns the other cheek and is kind to others

no matter what. Jim doesn’t lie or cheat, or steal, or gamble and looks down on these activities.

Jim is never bitter, he never complains, and never expects Huck to return or even notice what he does for him.

However, this is not to say that Huck is not heroic himself. His support for Jim, a black man, who Huck has been

taught is inferior and as important as a pack horse is astounding and displays that Huck is strong enough and heroic

enough to make the harder choice and choose his heart over his conscience. An example of Huck choosing his heart

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occurs just after Jim has been sold by the King and the Duke for forty dollars. Huck believes he has been forced to

make a choice between Jim and heaven. He chooses Jim with the words, All right then, I’ll go to hell.

It is Jim’s escape and the subsequent threat of his re-capture that provides the reason for Huck and himself to

leave the island and travel down the river where most of their adventures occur. Without Jim, Twain would lack a

reason for Huck to travel down the river and experience what he experiences. Without Jim, this would be little more

than a story about a boy who fakes his own death and then lives on an island. Add to this the fact that Jim is the

leader during the travel down the river. He is the one who knows all the signs of weather, either good or bad. It is he

who makes their journey its success and ensures their lives. Jim is the more mature out of Huck and himself, and

Huck s immaturity is shown when he puts the rattlesnake in Jim’s sleeping bag or when he plays a disappearing trick

on Jim during the fog.

Without Jim the novel would be ineffectual because Huck’s development would be stunted without him. One

prime example of Jim’s importance occurs when Huck comes closer to fully realizing that Jim is a real person too

and the color of his skin does not diminish his humanity. Huck has realized that Jim is a human and that he should

not play tricks on him or regard him as stupid. Around the end of the novel Huck says, I knowed he was white

inside. Huck is expressing his realization that Jim is a human in the only way he knows through making Jim white.

Huck’s realization is well brought across to us just after he has hidden in the fog and returned to Jim. Jim works out

that Huck is trying to trick him and reacts very badly to Huck’s prank. Huck then says, It was fifteen minutes

before I could work myself to humble to a nigger- but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I

didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d knowed it would make him feel that way.

Huck and Jim have a symbiotic relationship; they need each other. Huck needs Jim to remain dynamic and keep

our attention, and Jim needs Huck to justify his presence in the novel. Jim’s effect on Huck is huge. It is through Jim

that Huck begins to learn about how the color of skin does not alter the person inside. An example of this occurs

when Huck says, And I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n . Huck

justifies Jim’s existence as a character of substance in this novel. For through helping Huck and caring for him, Jim

makes an impact on the reader and hence makes his position in the novel as one of it’s main characters more

tenable. However, while it is obviously true that Jim teaches Huck, he is not Huck’s only teacher. Several other

characters such as Pap and Tom also teach Huck valuable lessons. One example of Huck being taught by someone

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other than Jim occurs when Huck says, If I never learnt nothin else out of Pap, I learnt that the best way to get

along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.

It is through the character Huck and his reactions to various events that Twain passes on his opinions to the

reader, for example: Huck’s realization that Jim is also a human and also important. Twain is trying to get this

message across to the public. Huck is a representation of the common person at the beginning of the novel. He is

white, uneducated, simple, and not willing to think about what he is told just willing to accept it. Huck’s realizations

about right and wrong and importantly his own ability to determine this for himself are drawn out and argued

logically inside a story which will hold the readers attention.

Through Huck, Twain frames all the key issues of freedom, racism and slavery, personal integrity and social

rebellion against social attitudes of the period. This occurs when Huck interacts with key characters who are

representative of a theme or an idea being presented by Twain such as example his interaction with Tom who

represents conventional social attitudes. As the novel progresses Huck is less inclined to accept what Tom says or

does as correct. One example of this occurs when Huck quits Tom Sawyers band of thieves. He no longer agrees

with Tom and many of Tom’s imagined incidents such as that of raiding the summer school picnic no longer hold

any credence with Huck. This moving away from Tom and what he represents is an indication of Twain’s rejection

of conventional social values. Jim is the symbolic representation of only one of these points of discussion; slavery.

Jim is only a part of that whole because he represents only one of the themes that Twain is discussing in this novel.

Unlike Huck, Jim is not the one who reveals the author’s opinions through his actions and reactions. He is merely

representative of one of these ideas.

Without Huck’s presence the novel lacks a unifying element. Jim is unable to fill the void in this regard as he is a

relatively static character who does not change. This is unlike the dynamic Huck who changes some of his opinions

and learns about many things ranging from serious issues such as slavery to simpler things such as how to discern

what the weather will be.

The most important factor that leads me to argue that Huck is the protagonist comes from the fact that the whole

novel is told in first person. It is Huck’s views not Jim’s that we get, it is his outlook that colors our opinion, and

most importantly his vernacular we read. In fact, Jim himself is seen through Huck’s eyes, with Huck’s opinion

coloring our own. Huck is omnipresent; this is not so with Jim. He continuously disappears when it does not serve

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Twain to have him in the episode. Debates inside Huck’s mind, the incident when Huck plays a trick on Jim during

the fog, and even the whole Shepardson-Grangerford incident are lacking the presence of Jim. When Huck meets

the Shepardsons and the Grangerfords, for example, Jim magically disappears into the bushes to repair the raft.

Huck is in every moment of the novel and other characters are merely there because they interact with Huck. Jim is

no exception.

Jim is an extremely important character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Jim represents slavery, the major

theme of the novel, is forgiving and kind, although, this makes him a heroic character, not the key character. Huck

on the other hand is the key character by virtue of his predominance throughout the book. He is on every page and

every line, and unlike Jim, he is the character who reveals and in effect discusses issues through his action,

reaction, and interaction with other characters. Hence it is fair and logical to conclude that although important, Jim is

not the key character of the novel. That honor must go to Huck.