Huck Finn And Slavery Essay Research Paper

Huck Finn And Slavery Essay, Research Paper Huck and Slavery In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn s relationship with slavery is very complex, and

Huck Finn And Slavery Essay, Research Paper

Huck and Slavery In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

Huck Finn s relationship with slavery is very complex, and

often contradictory. He has been brought up to accept

slavery. He can think of no worse crime than helping to free a

slave. Despite this, he finds himself on the run with Jim, a

runaway slave, and doing everything in his power to protect

him. Huck Finn grew up around slavery. His father is a violent

racist, who launches into tirades at the idea of free blacks

roaming around the countryside. Miss Watson owns slaves,

including Jim, so that no matter where he goes, the idea of

blacks as slaves is reinforced. The story takes place during

the 1840 s, at a time when racial tensions were on the rise, as

Northern abolitionists tried to stir up trouble in the South. This

prompted a backlash from Southerners, which entrenched the

institution more than ever. Huck Finn could not be against

slavery, because if he were, he would be a traitor to the South

and its way of life. Huck s first moral dilemma comes when he

meets Jim on Jackson Island. Huck s initial reaction on

hearing of Jim s escape is one of shock; he could not believe

someone could run away from his master. He cannot believe

that Jim would stoop so low as to run away from his master,

which he sees as a terrible sin. Huck does promise to keep

his secret, however, despite knowing that people will call him

a low-down abolitionist and despise him for keeping mum (p.

57). Although Huck disagrees vehemently with the idea of

runaway slaves, he quite likes Jim, and so warns him that

dogs are coming on to the island. This shows that Huck s

heart and Huck s mind are often in disagreement with one

another when it comes to the issue of slavery. Despite being

good friends with Jim, Huck does not hide his obvious

prejudice against blacks. Because blacks are uneducated, he

sees them as stupid and stubborn. He frequently tells stories

to Jim, mainly about foreign kings and history. When Jim

disagrees with Huck, he becomes very stubborn and refuses

to listen to explanations. Huck eventually concludes, you

can t learn a nigger to argue (p. 107). Jim also seems to

accept that whites are naturally superior to blacks. He knows

that Huck is far smarter than he is. When Tom Sawyer and

Huck are planning an elaborate breakout for Jim, he allows

their outrageous plan to continue because they was white

folks and knowed better than him (p. 328). This mutual

acceptance of whites as superior to blacks shows how deeply

rooted slavery was in Southern culture. This made it very

difficult for Huck to help Jim. When Tom Sawyer says he will

help free Jim, Huck is very disappointed. He had never

thought that Tom Sawyer, of all people, would be a nigger

stealer (p. 299). Huck had always considered Tom

respectable and educated, and yet Tom was prepared to

condemn himself to damnation by freeing a runaway slave.

This confuses Huck greatly, who no longer knows what to

think about his situation with Jim. When Huck is forced to

make a decision regarding slavery, he invariably sides with

his emotions. Huck does not turn Jim in, despite having

several chances. His best chance to do what he believes is

right comes as they are rafting towards Cairo, Illinois. Huck

finally manages to convince himself that turning in Jim is the

only way to clear his conscience, and so he sets off towards

shore to tell the authorities. Before he has gone halfway, a

skiff with slave hunter stops him and asks if the man aboard

Huck s raft is black or white. This is the perfect opportunity for

Huck to do what he, as a white southerner, should do.

Instead, he tells them that the only man aboard is his father,

who has smallpox. Later in the story, he writes Miss Watson a

letter revealing Jim s whereabouts. As he is about to send it,

however, he remembers all Jim and he have been through

together; how he is Jim s only friend in the world. Finally Huck

remarks All right then, I ll go to Hell, and tears up the letter.

These scenes confirm for the reader that Huck does not have

the heart to betray a friend, black or white. Huckleberry Finn

has a very complicated relationship with the concept of

slavery. Being a Southerner, he naturally supports the

institution, as it is all he has ever known. Once he meets Jim,

however, his opinions begin to change. He cannot bring

himself to turn in Jim, although he believes it to be the moral

thing to do. During his adventure down the Mississippi, Huck

constantly sees evidence of the good inherent in Jim and

other blacks, as well as the wickedness evident in some of his

white acquaintances. This causes Huck to consider the fact

that blacks are not necessarily inferior to whites. Because of

this, he manages to justify, in his own mind at least, both

slavery and his freeing Jim. He is thus trapped in a

contradiction, which he must deal with for the entire