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ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN AND SLAVERY NARRATIVE ANALYSIS
Mark Twain had direct experience with the slavery that he described in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When Mark Twain in 1884 / 1885 wrote his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, describing a series of Mississippi river-town adventures experienced by a white boy, he created his novel in slavery time Missouri. During his writing, many influences prompted the author to examine the contemporary conditions of the black (Champion 54). From the novel the reader gathers a deep understanding of the meaning of living in a slave society in the period when slave trade was brisk.
The person who reads Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does not come upon the discussion of slavery until Chapter Two, when Mark Twain describes how Huck and Tom spend their lives in a slaveholding society. The opening chapters contain what can be described as Tom Sawyer's total experiences that make up his life. In these chapters the reader is led to see these circumstances and society as Tom Sawyer does. As a result, the slave Jim is illustrated mainly as a character to laugh at and play jokes and tricks on, and slavery is introduced as a normal and logical phenomenon. From this perspective, Jim is naive and disposed to believe in superstition - a humorous story character rather than a human being with ability to feel deeply and have thoughts and ideas.
As Huck and Jim go beyond the social world of Tom Sawyer and have a good time alone together on the bank of the river, Jim begins to cast off the comic characteristics. It is as if Mark Twain begins portraying Jim through Huck's observation rather than Tom's observation. As Huck increasingly considers Jim as a more and more complex person with ideas and the conscious mind, Jim is described to the reader as less of a person who is comic. Jim's deep human world is described in particular in his harrowing sense of deep regret over striking his deaf daughter, his statement that Huck is his only true friend, his feeling of happiness at discovering Huck alive after the loss in the fog, and the preaching he gives Huck for playing the last joke on him. When Tom Sawyer once more appears in the scene in the Phelps situations, however, Jim again is pictured as if reflection of the powerful consciousness of Tom Sawyer; in the end Jim is again a character to laugh at, an object used for humorous purposes.
The circumstances that lead up to describe Jim in slavery continue to be set in Chapter Four, as Huck, being an outsider in this system of human organizations almost like Jim, goes to Jim for advice about his future when he has suspicion that Pap may have come back. In contrast to the views having a high state of culture and social development that Tom Sawyer gets from books, Huck and Jim are alike in depending on folk knowledge, irrational beliefs that are given little credibility in this cultured civilization.
The decisive scene that sets the stage for an escape from slavery is Pap's long angry speech against the political authority and black folk in Chapter Six. Pap, in all his lack of knowledge and meanness, rails against free black human beings who are courageous enough to try to dress in a white shirt, can communicate in several languages, and are teachers in a college. This statement, uttered by a man who is extremely unpleasant, sadistic, overwhelmed by strong negative emotion, proud of his ignorance, and decided that his son will remain unable to read and write, is the reader's first hint that Mark Twain's sympathies are not with the slaveholding civilized classes.
The signs that the reader's sympathy is directed to Jim rather than to the society that enslaved him come into view early in the novel in the common characteristics between Jim and Huck. The reader observes here a parallel thematic progress in the destiny of the white boy and the black man, both of whom are casting off shackles that restrict their freedom....
Cited: _The Critical Response to Mark Twain 's Huckleberry Finn_, Ed. Laurie Champion (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991),65.
_The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_, Mark Twain. P. F. Collier & Son Company: New York, 1918.
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