Huckleberry Finn Frederick Douglass Slavery comparison

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Pages: 3 (862 words) Published: December 1, 2014
Marina Tseng

August 21, 2014

AP Lit

Up until 1865, slavery and all of its violence and cruelty was accepted across the United states. The self-acclaimed "Land of the Free" was not a free land for slaves like Fredrick Douglass, or even Jim, a fictional character in the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Slavery depicted in the previously mentioned novel is very much cushioned when compared to the reality of slavery depicted in the autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. However, Mark Twain, author of the former manages to capture some realities within his satirical version of life before the American Civil War. Both novels portray the classic version of slavery, where Africans are inferior to the English, but Twain's version shows neither the extent of violence and cruelty committed upon slaves, nor the double-edged sword that comes with owning slaves.

Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain both show the most common form of slavery; the unjust control and superiority white people assert over the African race. In Twain's novel, Jim is loyal to his owner Miss Watson, but when Miss Watson finds out "she could [get] eight [hundred] dollars for [Jim]" (42), she plans to sell him. Miss Watson had promised Jim that she would never sell him, and knows that, by selling Jim, she would be separating him from his wife and children. However, with the offer of eight hundred dollars for Jim, Miss Watson's own greed overrules the destruction of a slave family. In this novel, eight hundred dollars for the white lady is worth destroying a black family over. Similarly, Douglass experiences his life being toyed with over "a misunderstanding [that] took place between [Douglass' owner] and Master Hugh" (41), his temporary owner. Because of an insignificant argument, Douglass' entire life is once again moved to a new location. In both the narrative and the novel, the lives of slaves are not worth even the menial conflicts of a white slave owner.

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