"Though the novel is entitled The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the story is told by Huck, the key character in the novel is Jim"
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has two key characters, one is the slave Jim, the other; the protagonist Huck. Jim and Huck could each be considered the key characters for different reasons, Jim as he is the main representative of the typical slave (slavery being the most important theme of this novel) and Huck for he is the main storyteller.
Jim is an important character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and without him the novel would be ineffectual. However The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel about the adventures of the protagonist Huck, and it is more likely that the key character of this novel is Huck because we see everything from his view.
In a novel which is written as a satiric social comment upon the southern states of America Jim's role as the manifestation of slavery must be a key one. Incidents in which Jim interacts with other characters and their reactions to him are meant to symbolise the wider society's opinions on slaves and the practice of slavery.
Jim, is a heroic figure in a book whose main characters consist of liars, cheats and scoundrels. Jim always does the right thing if he can, he always feels empathy for others even if those people show no such emotions for him. The incident at the end of the novel when he saves Tom and risks what he believes to be his own freedom is a case in point.
We empathise with Jim because even though other characters suggest that his feelings are least important, whose life is lesser, whose existence is trivial, he manages to stay cheerful, and even kind to those who treat him in this manner. This quality makes him even more heroic, for he is a figure who turns the other cheek, and is kind to others no matter what. Jim doesn't lie or cheat, or steal or gamble and looks down on these activities.
Jim is never bitter, he never complains, and never expects Huck to return or even notice what he does for him. However this is no to say that Huck is not heroic himself, his support for Jim, a black man, who Huck has been taught is inferior and as important as a pack horse is astounding, and displays that Huck is strong enough and heroic enough to make the harder choice and choose his heart over his conscience. An example of Huck choosing his heart occurs just after Jim has been sold by the King and the Duke for forty dollars, Huck believes he has been forced to make a choice between Jim and heaven. He chooses Jim with the words " All right then, I'll go to hell".
It is Jim's escape and the subsequent threat of his re-capture that provides the reason for himself and Huck to leave the island and travel down the river where most of their adventures occur. Without Jim Twain would lack a reason for Huck to travel down the river and experience what he experiences, without Jim this would be little more than a story about a boy who fakes his own death, and then lives on an island. Add to this the fact that Jim is the leader during the travel down the river. He is the one who knows all the signs of weather, either good or bad, it is he who makes their journey its success and ensures their lives. Jim is the maturest out of himself and Huck. Huck's immaturity is shown when he puts the rattlesnake in Jim's sleeping bag, or when he plays a trick on Jim during the fog. Jim's maturity is displayed by his reaction to the incident when Huck plays a trick on him during the fog.
Without Jim the novel would be innefectual because Huck's development would be stunted without him. One prime example of Jim's importance occurs when Huck comes closer to fully realising that Jim is a real person too and the colour of his skin does not diminish his humanity. Huck has realised that Jim is a human and that he should not play tricks on him or...