Jim's role in "Huckleberry Finn" by Twain

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1996

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When asked who the most important character in Huckleberry Finn is, almost all people would say either Huck himself, or Jim, the black slave. They are both essential to the story, though, and both give to the story an alternate perspective. Huck is the outsider, the nonconformist who just doesn't fit into society, and Jim is the runaway black slave, fearing for his freedom, being persecuted only on the grounds of the color of his skin. Jim is the representation of all slaves both stereotyped and in reality, just as Tom is the representations of society, and civilization. Not many people can ever really experience either person's situations, except through this book and other's like it. However, just because we can't physically be there doesn't mean we can't experience it. Adler says, 'We learn from experience--the experience that we have in the course of our daily lives. So too, we can learn from the vicarious, or artistically created, experiences that fiction produces in our imaginations.'

Jim reveals several things about himself through his actions and by what others say about his actions. I would like to examine a couple of scenes involving Jim to show some of his notable traits. The first passage I'll use is in chapter 11. This is the chapter where Huck finds out that some people are going to see if there is anyone on Jackson Island, where Huck and Jim currently are. After Huck tells Jim that men are coming, Huck says this about Jim's reaction: 'Jim never asked no questions, he never said a word; but the way he worked for the next half an hour showed about how he was scared.' This confirms something obvious--that Jim values his freedom greatly. Once he has experienced a kind of freedom, he...