How Twain Undermines/Reinforces Cultural Values Through Jim

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Critical Journal #4
Mark Twain undermines, and reinforces the cultural values of the time period through his characterization of Jim. One of the black stereotypes during the Pre-Civil War era was Blacks being lazy, ignorant, uneducated, and uncivilized. Jim ran away when he found out about Miss Watson selling him. Jim could have just sat around being lazy complaining about being sold. Instead Jim took action and left. He has also helped Huck throughout their journey. When Jim and Huck find the dead body, Jim decides to cover it up. “Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he needn’t done it; I didn’t want to see him” (Twain 61). This showed that even though Huck did not want to look at the dead body, Jim went through the extra effort to put rags over the body just so Huck would not see the dead man. But, Jim’s character re-enforces the uneducated stereotype, due to not being able to say words correctly. “Yo’ole father doan’ know, yit, what he’s agwyne to do. Sometimes he spec he’ll go ‘way, en den again he spec he’ll stay” (Twain 21). What Jim meant to say was, “Your old father does not know yet, what is he going to do. Sometimes he expects he will go away, and then again he expects he’ll stay”. This shows Jim’s lack of education for pronunciations. Jim shows ignorance by jumping to conclusions that King Solomon was unwise because of chopping a baby in half, when he did not know King Solomon’s intentions in the first place. Twain characterizes Jim as an equal to Huck. Twain balances the true black stereotypes, and the false stereotypes Jim’s character portrays equally. Twain characterizes Jim as an equal to Huck, to show black and white people are equal. Even though Jim does not have the best grammar, Huck does not either. The black stereotypes and blacks being inferior to whites imply that whites should be the exact opposites of black people. Hard working, not ignorant, educated, and civilized. At one point when Huck and Jim are in an argument, Jim makes...
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