Huck and Jim: Foils to Twains Trip Through the Southern Economy

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Throughout Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the reader is given glimpses of Southern society along the banks of the Mississippi. Huck’s experiences of Southern life vary greatly depending on his trip ashore, but one theme that is apparent is desperation and poverty contrasted with the aristocracy of rich plantation owners. Huck witnesses violent murder multiple times, both from the poor and destitute and the rich. Twain seems to poke humor at the fact that the aristocratic Sheperdsons and Grangerfords kill each other over a forgotten rude while the more poor characters use violence to try and increase their rank in life. Twain uses Jim and Huck’s flight from their own enslavers as a backdrop to discuss poverty throughout the South. The marxist critiques of Southern life become apparent in Twain’s writing due to both Huck and Jim fleeing a product of capitalism, issues of violence and desperation involving poverty and the rich, and the way Huck’s conscience is molded by religion and society to keep Jim enslaved in the chains of a capitalist society.

Both Huck and Jim are forced to flee for freedoms from oppressions caused by capitalistic society. Jim’s situation is by far the most obvious. Slavery was the product of the most extremist version of capitalism and free market trading. The markets being so free that Jim, a human being has a possibility of being sold at any moment as if he was any other type of product. When Jim hears word that he may be sold down river he is forced into flight. In the free market economy without regulations that was predominate in the South Jim is left with no freedom. Huck’s forced flight is from the oppression of his drunk and impoverished father. While Pap might seem a gruff and evil man, his unsavory characteristics are the product of lifelong poverty as a result of capitalism. Pap was illiterate and unschooled as a boy and grew up poor. When he grew older his wife died after giving birth to Huck. In no stretch of the...
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