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The Role of Jim in Huckleberry Finn - Essay Example

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The Role of Jim in Huckleberry Finn

We meet Jim in the second chapter, in a role next to only Huck. He remains throughout a 'noble cause and an ignoble foil' in Twain's masterpiece supposed to be a departure from usual European literary work, which was initially denounced for the irrepressible need of better treatment to slaves. It used frontier humor, vernacular speech and according to Ernest Hemingway, is the novel from which "all modern American literature comes. There has been nothing as good since." http://www.enotes.com/twentieth-century-criticism/adventures-huckleberry-finn-mark-twain
Ralph Ellison defends Twain's presentation of Jim as ""not only a slave but a human being, a man who in some ways have to be enviedJim is drawn in all his ignorance, and superstition, with his good traits, and bad. He like all men, is ambiguous, limited in circumstances, but not in possibility," Callahan (1995, p.88).
Twain presents natural justice and raises the characters above the prevailing selfishness of society and racism. While doing so, he introduces perhaps one of the most endearing characters to literary world rivaled only by his protagonists, Huck and Tom for reader's affection.

"The test and proof of natural goodness, which raises Jim and Huck above religious hypocrisy and selfish romanticism, is its transforming power upon him. The fear-ridden slave becomes in the end a source of moral energy. The shifting of Jim's shape is reversed at the end, as he sinks back from his heroism to become the bewildered freed darky of reconstruction days, grateful to the young white boss for that guilt-payment of forty dollars," Mensh (2000, pp.110-111).




When most African Americans were depicted as fools, superstitious, ignorant and idiotic, Twain dares to initiate a diverse characterization in Jim, who, from being a humble servant, goes up to be the savior of both boys, traveling the distance with ease and kindness.

"He embodies all the qualities-loyalty, faith, love, compassion, strength, wisdom-of the dynamic hero, and his willingness to sacrifice his freedom and his life for two young boys establishes him as a classic benevolent character" http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-20,pageNum-94.html

Huck becomes the inheritor of Jim's worthy qualities, an entirely different angle where a white boy learns generosity and kindness from a slave black. Jim's ability to predict the storm shows the inherent simply cleverness, even though uneducated and roughly used. The runaway black slave, fearing for his freedom, with entire world against him, reveals several things about himself, subtly showing that slaves are human, as human or perhaps more human than their American owners, and value their freedom and yearn to be treated in a humanitarian way. The message is loud and clean that Twain wanted slavery to perish. An aggressive message would not have been so suitable.

"The 'fury' is certainly an important element in Huckleberry Finn, but it is not itself patently active; it is subsumed into the whole critical and poetic view of the human condition so wonderfully resented in the book," Grant (1962, p.80).





It is surprising to note how reader thinks more often about Jim and less of ...Show more

Summary

Jim is the black character of the American white world in Huckleberry Fin of Mark Twain, when blacks were almost invisible. As the story was set in an earlier decade, when the slavery was still unrepentantly rampant, especially in the South, it was a masterly act of ambition to impress upon America the barbarity of the system in so-called land of liberty and freedom, where one entire race was captured, kidnapped, tortured, killed, separated from homeland to live a life of eternal slavery…
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The Role of Jim in Huckleberry Finn essay example
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