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In his famed novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain writes a classic American adventure story, complete with moral dilemmas, the theme of an individual against society, and the proverbial journey into maturity. However, the focus of his book is not on the adventure itself, but rather on the pseudo father-son relationship that springs up between Jim and Huck during their pilgrimage down the Mississippi. Huck, an uncivilized, pragmatic child, has had little if any controlling influence in his life. His father Pap is an abusive alcoholic who kidnaps him in the beginning of the novel, setting the scene for his disappearance and the ensuing journey. Huck meets Jim, an escaped slave, and accepts him as a companion, as they are both running for their freedom. However, Huck still sees Jim as a slave, a piece of property, rather than a human. This changes as the two journey down the Mississippi River, becoming dependent on each other, one filling both a practical !
and emotional need of the other. This bond begins to fade from view as the book strays from Huck and Jim with the introduction of the Duke and the Dauphin, and gets progressively further from view towards the end of the book. Eventually, When Twain re-introduces Tom in the end of the novel, he removes Huck and Jim?s relationship as the focus of the book and thereby dilutes his message.
Huck and Jim begin their travels together as two very different people running in the same direction, yet end as the closest of friends. In the beginning, Huck and Jim stay together out of need because Jim needs a white person to run with to avoid being captured as a slave, and Huck is lonely by himself. Running together, they gradually become good friends, but their camaraderie is not cemented until they are separated and later reunited in chapter fifteen. In this chapter, the two are separated in a dense fog near Cairo, their destination, where the Ohio river joins the Mississippi. After many hours, Huck finally makes his way back to the raft, which he finds with one broken oar and covered with debris. Jim is sleeping, and Huck, still in a childish state of mind, decides to play a joke on Jim by pretending that he was never lost. He pretends to wake up next to Jim, who is overjoyed to see him, and convinces him that the whole episode was a dream. When Jim finally rea!
lizes that Huck is fooling him, he admonishes him sharply for it, "?my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed." (Twain, 109) It is here that Jim?s association with Huck?s really becomes paternal, for Jim?s words are those of a responsible father whose son has acted shamefully. Jim?s words have a profound affect on Huck, who realizes that Jim is a person, and that his feelings can be hurt. Regardless of his former friendship with Jim, he still considered him a lowly slave until then.
In the early 1800?s in the South, blacks were slaves, and the social order was accepted. Most people thought nothing of black rights, they were considered property. As Huck states, "I was stealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn't ever done me no harm?"(Twain, 271) Twain?s installation of Jim as a symbolic father for Huck is a rejection of this sentiment, in that he sees Jim as a person, and a far better one than Huck?s real father who, despite his white skin, never treated Huck as a good father should. Pap seems to typify the whites in this story, most of whom are ethically barren in one way or another. The Duke and the Dauphin are frauds, the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons kill each other over nothing, and Colonel Sherburn kills Boggs without a thought. By rights, Jim is morally superior to virtually all the
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