There is a great deal of controversy over whether or not The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain should be taught in schools. It has been argued that Mark Twain depicts Jim as Huck’s impotent and submissive sidekick. Another argument made is that Jim isn’t portrayed as much of an actual human being nor is he treated like one throughout the novel. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be taught in schools so that students and teachers are able to think about and discuss their opinions on what Mark Twain’s purpose was in depicting Jim the way he does.
Many critics claim that Mark Twain saw Jim as no more than some type of loyal sidekick who was depicted as a simple-minded character who showed few humanistic characteristics throughout the book. This is not the case, Mark Twain had a purpose in creating a character like Jim, to reinforce yet challenge stereotypical racism back in that time period. Mark Twain did in fact make Jim a simple-minded character lacking intellectual abilities but he also humanized Jim by giving him traits like feelings and also by giving him somewhat of a paternal role to Huck.
“Doan’ know, yit, what he’s a-gywne to do” (85). “I went in en unkivered him and didn’t let you come in? Well den, you k’n git yo’ money when you wants it; kase dat wuz him” (320). These two quotes from the beginning and end of the novel show that Jim had no real intellectual growth throughout the novel. Mark Twain continues to have Jim speak in poor (poorer than the the other characters) English to reinforce the stereotypical racism of uneducated African Americans in the South. However, Mark Twain also gives Jim somewhat of a paternal role towards Huck which makes Jim out to be more humane. “Come in Huck, but doan’ look at his face - it’s to gashly. I didn’t look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him...” (50). This passage from the book shows the paternal instinct Twain gave to Jim’s character in which he undermines racist stereotypes...
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