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Slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an iconic novel written by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain It follows the journeys of an unlikely duo; a southern boy, Huck Finn, and a runaway slave, Jim. The two are both running away from the past and are learning and growing along the way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, captures the essence of true friendship and while doing so, breaks down racial barriers and makes a personal statement about slavery and post Civil War America. In the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck thought that Jim was just property, an ignorant slave that is below him. Huck was brought up in a society that thought slaves were not actual human beings. Slaves to Huck were just another piece of property, like a bed or chair. He didn’t think they could learn or have intelligent thoughts as shown when he and Jim got into an argument over King Solomon. Huck was talking to Jim one day about kings and how they can get all the riches they want by sitting around all day (which Jim believes is false). The topic eventually arrives to King Solomon of biblical times. Huck told Jim about the wise King Solomon and his many wives to which Jim responds, “I doan' take no stock in dat. Bekase why would a wise man want to live in de mids'er sich a blimblammin' all de time? No- 'deed he wouldn't. A wise man 'ud take en buil' a biler-factry; en den he could shet down de biler-factry when he want to res',” which is basically Jim saying that he was not wise because only a fool would have that many blabbering women around him all the time (Twain 53). Jim then comments about how he wanted to cut a baby in half and why anyone would think he was a wise man after that incident. Huck argues saying that Solomon didn’t really want to cut a baby in half, but Huck eventually gives up because, "-it warn't no use wasting words-you can't learn a sleek-feathered one to argue. So I quit,” (Twain 55). This part of the story goes to show that Huck thought that slaves couldn’t learn or have an intelligent conversation because they were, in fact, property. Towards the middle of the story, Huck begins to make some slight changes in his views towards slaves. Although he is still insensitive and cruel to Jim from time to time, especially when he plays a prank on him, he starts to learn from those pranks that Jim does have feelings and is smart enough to know when he is being tricked. For example, one of the pranks Huck played on Jim was after Jim and him were separated in a deep fog. Huck tried to trick Jim into thinking he imagined it all, that he was going crazy. It was inhumane, but Huck thought it was okay because colored men and women didn’t have feelings; they aren’t human. Huck thought Jim was stupid enough to buy it, but Jim didn’t. Jim got angry at Huck, and Huck knew he had to apologize, but part of him felt like it would lessen his ‘dominance’ over Jim if he did. Huck says, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to the nigger,” (Twain 60). However, even though Huck took awhile to apologize, he eventually did which shows progress. Since the beginning of the story, Huck knew he would eventually have to turn Jim in because it was the right thing to do, but in chapter 16 when a couple men ask if there are any runaway slaves with him, he lies. He starts feeling guilty afterwards, but then rationalizes that, “-s'pose you'd a done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad -- I'd feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” (Twain 64). This is the turning point for Huck. Huck realizes that Jim is a friend because they have bonded on their journey. Huck has started to open his mind to the idea that colored men and women are human beings just like him. Towards the end of the story, Huck begins to see Jim as his equal. After the events that transpired since chapter 16, Huck decides that the guilt is too much. He starts to write a letter to Miss Watson, but realizes that it is not the right thing to do. Jim is his friend; Jim deserves freedom just as much as he does, so he says, “I took it (the letter) up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘Alright, then, I'll go to hell’ -- and tore it up,” (Twain 147). Although he still thinks it is a sin to not turn Jim in, he doesn’t care. He is fine with going to Hell for helping Jim. In fact, after helping Jim to freedom, Huck even says, “I knowed he was white inside,” which goes to show that he see Jim as his equal (Twain 191). This is a big statement coming from the boy who once thought that slaves were property and weren’t even human. This is all because of the personal relationship between Huck and Jim that blossomed throughout the story. In conclusion, Huck has a huge change of viewpoints over the course of the story. This is all due to his unlikely friendship with Jim, and the trials they faced together. Due to this, Mark Twain was able to use this story to make a powerful personal statement about slavery and post Civil War America that has changed the viewpoints of many Americans.
A bit wordy. Covering the same point (colored people are not intelligent, lack feelings) so many times seems unnecessary.