Huck Finn

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade September 2001

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HUCKLEBERRY FINN SUMMER QUESTIONS 1.) Jim, a black man and slave of Miss Watson, and also Huck's companion and friend as they travel down the Mississippi, is a man of great intelligence and compassion. At the beginning of the novel Jim seems to be wildly superstitious, almost to the point of it being humorous. This is shown in a quote on page 62, where Huck says to Jim, "You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake skin with my hands." After reading the part of the novel when they are on Jackson's Island though, we find out that his superstition actually reflects his knowledge of nature. Throughout the novel, Jim acts as a father figure to Huck. He cooks for him and takes care of him. Jim also shelters Huck from horrible sights, including Huck's father's dead corpse on the houseboat.

2.) The major theme in Huckleberry Finn is the struggle with slavery.

For Jim, the slavery is the slavery of the 1840's south. For Huck, the slavery is the slavery of being civilized put on him by Miss Watson, and also the slavery later that his father puts on him. Both Jim and Huck run away from civilization into the wilderness to escape from slavery. Even at the end of the novel, Huck says he wants to go out west to escape being civilized by Aunt Sally. A quote on page 344 show this, "But I reckon I gotta light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before." 3.) The unusual language in Huckleberry Finn shows the mindset and ignorance of the typical person in the 1840's south. Mark Twain uses these different dialects to distinguish between characters. Jim has a very different way of speaking as opposed to Huck or Miss Watson. Mark Twain also uses unusual language to criticize southern way of thinking and their insincerity. The south was supposed to be a place of Christianity yet they ignore the Biblical idea of equality among all believers; the word "nigger" is used dozens of times in the novel. When asked by Aunt Sally if anyone was hurt on the boat, Huck replies, "No'm. Killed a nigger." This shows that people in the south did not actually take black people for their equals.

4.) The major struggle of Huckleberry Finn is the struggle with his teachings on race. Huck was taught that it was a sin to help a runaway slave, and yet he helps protect Jim from slavery many times. Many times throughout the novel Huck questions what he was taught. He even goes as far as to say he will "go to hell" rather than do the "right thing". He bases his decisions on logic and his conscience rather than what he was taught.