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Argumentive essay on the books Incidents in The of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Hucklelberry Finn by Mark Twain - Thesis Example

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Argumentive essay on the books Incidents in The of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and Hucklelberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huck Finn, by contrast, is a work of fiction. The novel tells the story of the friendship between a white boy, Huckleberry Finn, and a black slave, Jim. Both are running away: Huck from his cruel father, and Jim from slavery and the possibility of being sold into an even worse situation. For Jim, a man, escape is difficult, but it is still far easier for him than it is for Linda, a woman. As a work of fiction written by a white man years after the Civil War, Huck Finn gives a slightly sanitized view of slavery. To some extent, the book does portray a realistic situation. Jim’s story was based on a common occurrence before the Civil War in Missouri along the Mississippi River, where Mark Twain lived. Many slaves would have tried to escape in a similar manner, often for the same reasons. Jim escapes because he is about to be sold “down the river,” to New Orleans, where slaves are treated far more brutally. He would also be permanently taken away from his wife and his children. Despite all this, Jim’s experiences are toned-down in comparison to Linda’s in Incidents. Jim says his owner, Miss Watson, treated him “pooty rough,” but does not go into much detail about this (Twain 53). The suffering Jim has endured, and would endure in if he were to be sent to New Orleans, is never fully described. Part of the reasoning for this is that Huck Finn is the sequel to The Adventures of Tom Saywer, a children’s book. It is told from the point of view of Huck, a child, and a white boy who does not fully understand the implications of slavery. It wouldn’t have been appropriate for Twain to describe the most disturbing parts of slavery in a book that might appeal to children, and it probably would have upset audiences for Huck to know too much about such an emotionally troubling subject. The book was written after slavery had ended, and it was not intended as an abolitionist text or a polemic against slavery. Instead it was meant to be the coming-of-age tale of a boy learning to see the humanity in someone society had proclaimed a non-person. There was no reason for Twain to describe the most brutal details of slavery when descriptions of Jim’s fear and sadness would be enough to make him a sympathetic character without making the story too dark for the intended audience. In contrast to Huck Finn, Incidents was pre-war abolitionist literature written by a black woman who was a former slave. The point of the book was to convince people who lived with slavery that the practice was wrong, and that black people were human beings. In order to show the evils of slavery, Incidents gives a much more shocking and detailed account of a slave’s life. After being sold to the Flint family, Linda lives in constant fear of being raped by Dr. Flint or murdered by his jealous wife. Yet she knows that there are others who suffer much more than her. She describes her relative good fortune compared to other slaves: I was never cruelly overworked; I was never lacerated with the whip from head to foot; I was never so beaten and bruised that I could not turn from one side to the other; I never had my heel-strings cut to prevent my running away; I was never chained to a log and forced to drag it about, while I toiled in the fields from morning till night; I was never branded with hot iron, or torn by bloodhounds. (174) Despite the fact that Linda does not suffer the torture visited upon many other people, she would rather live ...Show more
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Summary

James J. Edmonds Professor Karen Miller AMST/ENG 11 March 2011 Linda Brent and Jim: Two Slaves a World Apart Harriet Jacobs’s autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are books that each paint a powerful picture of slavery in their own way…
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