Depictions of Courage in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain displays the good in humanity through depictions of courage in the characters of Huckleberry Finn and Jim. Huck Finn, certainly one of the bravest characters in the novel, overcomes his hardships through his demonstration of courage. One example of his courage occurs upon a crashed steamboat, “The Walter Scott”, when Huck stumbles upon a ruthless band of cutthroats and attempts to stop them. Huck says, “if we find their boat we can put all of ‘em in a bad fix-for the Sheriff ‘ll get ‘em” (Twain 90). Huck demonstrates his fearlessness to risk his own life to bring several murderous criminals to justice. He displays the human virtue of heroism when he decides to free Jim from the clutches of the Phelps family. Although he thought it would cost him his life, Huck summons up the courage to help free Jim. To many, Huck Finn’s demonstration of courage may in fact personify their connotation of courage, however, to others it may only display bravery.

In contrast, Jim, a runaway slave, also exemplifies true courage. Jim’s first display of courage occurs in Jim’s decision to escape slavery and risk his own life. “I laid dah under de shavins all day. I ‘uz hungry, but I warn’t afeared: bekase I knowed ole missus en de wider wuz going’ to start to de camp-meetn” shows Jim’s true determination and courageousness to escape slavery (Twain 56). Jim also demonstrates his act of valor in the novel when he gives up his freedom to help the wounded Tom Sawyer. As the doctor who treated Tom Sawyer stated, “I enver see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller” (Twain 354). Jim’s actions, overall, demonstrate true courage, as he defies the odds of slavery and society in order to achieve something he believed truly unalienable and honorable.
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