Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn is an American classic that provides a commentary on slavery. Although Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn years after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War he set the story much earlier when slavery was still a way of life in the United States. Slavery was still a complicated issue and Mark Twain’s approach to slavery in his novel reflects this. In the novel Huck struggles with his feelings toward slavery and Jim and what he believes is the right thing to do with a runaway slave. Huck's first moral dilemma comes when he meets Jim on Jackson Island. Huck's reaction to hearing of Jim's escape is one of shock; he could not believe a slave could run away from their master. Slaves at that time rarely ran away and what were the chances Huck would be the person to encounter a slave. Jim running away from his master is seen as a terrible sin and Huck is torn over what he should do in the situation. Being from the south Huck automatically sides with slavery for that is all he’s ever known. Huck does promise not to turn Jim in, however, despite knowing that if anyone knew that “Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was to ever see anybody from that town again, I’d be ready to lick his boots for shame” (p. 261) Although Huck disagrees with the idea of runaway slaves, he likes Jim, and so warns him that dogs are coming on to the island. Huck’s heart and mind often contradict themselves and he goes against what he knows is right for what he feels for Jim. As the novel continues Huck begins to become close with Jim, the share stories of their lives and Jim begins to humanize in Huck’s eyes. Jim has a family in which he has the same love for that a white man would. Huck begins to find more similarities between Jim and himself and it begins to complicate his view of blacks. Despite being good friends with Jim, Huck displays obvious prejudice against blacks. Because blacks are uneducated he judges then as stupid...