Huckleberry Finn: Friendships Despite Racism and Slavery

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“He ain’t no slave; he’s as free as any cretur that walks this earth!” (Twain289). Tom Sawyer, one of the main characters in Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, said these words in defense of his friend Jim, when someone tried to return this once-enslaved man back to his former obligations. This classical novel is about a boy named Huck, and a runaway slave named Jim. Huck escaped his town and ran off with Jim, traveling along the Mississippi River. They confronted many obstacles that forced them to work together and eventually brought them closer in the end. Throughout the novel, there were many events that made Huck treat Jim more like a loyal friend than a runaway slave. Mark Twain uses the recurring theme of friendship to illustrate how Huck and Jim broke societal norms by learning to care for each other despite the rampant racism of the time. The treatment of Jim from Tom and Huck is much different in the beginning of the novel versus at the end. In the beginning, they treated him very poorly because he was in fact an African American runaway slave and racism was a huge issue at the time. When Jim and Huck initially met up and Huck heard his story about running away, Jim says “but mind, you said you wouldn’t tell - you know you said you wouldn’t tell, Huck” (43) and Huck replies with “people would call me a low down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum” (43). This indicates that Huck is worried about what other people would say and think if they knew he was running off with a slave, because it troubles the ethical system that he grew up around. Throughout their journey together down the Mississippi River, Huck also played a few cruel tricks on Jim, further showing the mistreatment involved. One trick ... ... middle of paper ... ...that Jim is more than just a runaway slave and therefore treats him better after they get to know him – as a good and loyal friend. Huck’s overall opinion of Jim changes from him asserting that “it was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger” (87) to “he was a mighty good nigger, Jim was” (157). Mark Twain uses this device to show how much of a problem slavery truly was and show that friendships can always be made despite what society says. If slave holders and white citizens just took the time to get to know an African American slave just like Huck and Tom did, instead of forcing and torturing them through hard labor, then they would see that the only difference between them is their physical aspects and appearance. Works Cited Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1996. Print.
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