S: Huck Finn's Race to Freedom
BC: Racism is man's gravest threat -- a maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason. -- Abraham J. Heschel
FC: Response to Literature | Huck Finn's Race to Freedom
1: We used to own our brother human beings, and used to buy them and sell them, lash them, thrash them, break their piteous hearts -- and we ought to be ashamed of our selves. -- Mark Twain
2: We can be sure that Mark Twain's novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, speaks to the time in which it was written, but we can be just as sure that readers today can learn something from Huckleberry's initiation into life on the river. Those critics who say that Twain's treatment of Jim in the novel is evidence of his racism, are mistaken. In fact, "one has to be deliberately dense to miss the point Mark Twain is making . . . and to construe (the novel) as evidence of his racism.
4: "Jim, unquestionably the best person in the book, reflects the author's affection, humanity, and moral passion" (Kaplan 19).
5: We find that Huck's morality ultimately "depends on Huck's recognition of the humanity of the slave, Jim" (Classroom lecture 19 Oct.)
6: Twain comments on society's view of slavery through the conflicts found throughout the novel. "There are clashes between humor and tragedy" (Blair 296), but there are also clashes between "conventional morality and true morality" (classroom lecture 19 Oct.).
8: .Along the way, Huck does discover Jim's humanness although at times, it seems that Huck looks down upon Jim.
9: Twain shows contempt for the culture.
10: From history, we know that slaves were purposefully kept from schools and forbidden to become educated. | Adventures of Huckleberry Finn excels in its examination of the debate over equality. | The most exceptional examples can be found in the parallels between Huck and Jim.
11: Once Huck is free from Pap, he must flee in order to escape the threat that the widow might try to "sivilize" (450) him which in itself was like a prison for "you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular, and be forever bothering over a book and have Old Miss Watson pecking at you all the time" (281) | Likewise, Pap "raged against the "hifalut'n foolishness' (278) of his son's learning to read and write in defiance of family tradition (Budd 96). | Just as Jim is held in slavery and later is imprisoned in the shed on the Phelpse's property, Huck is imprisoned in Pap's cabin.
12: However, Huck must overcome the influence of his societal conscience and discover this equality.
13: In the beginning of the novel, we see that Huck is not setting out to free Jim but merely to escape the abuse of his father.
14: Huck "discovers that Jim is a person" (classroom lecture 16 Oct.) when the rattlesnake's "mate bit (Jim) right on the heel" (299).
15: As Jim and Huck travel down the river, they develop a relationship of true friendship.
16: In fact, Jim tells Huck, "you's de bes' fren' Jim's ever had" (322).
17: The river is a symbolic archetype.
18: "It is the great mother river that carries the blood of human kind and life" (classroom lecture 14 Oct.) running from past through the present into the future.
19: Jim is just a slave at the beginning of the river trip.
20: At the end, he is a free man with "forty dollars" of his own, and he is truly Huck's friend.
21: Works Cited Baldanza, Frank. Mark Twain: An Introduction and Interpretation. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1961. Blair, Walter. Mark Twain & Huck Finn. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1945. Budd, Louis J. Mark Twain: Social Philosopher. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962. Classroom lecture. ELA 11. John J. Cairns High School. Lindsay. 14 Oct. 2010. Classroom lecture. ELA 12. John J. Cairns High School. Lindsay. 14 Oct. 2010. Classroom lecture. ELA 12. John J. Cairns High School. Lindsay. 16 Oct. 2010. Classroom lecture. ELA 12. John J. Cairns High School. Lindsay. 19 Oct. 2010. Fishkin, Shelly Fisher. Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Kaplan, Justin. Born to Trouble: One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn. Washington: Library of Congress, 1985.