The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Claim: Twain creates a theme of equalityin The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in order to show that slavery is unjustified by showing that African Americans are people too by depicting Jim as intelligent and compassionate and also by having white people realize that Jim is just as human as everyone else.
Topic Sentence #1: Twain creates a theme of equality in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in order to show that slavery is unjustified by showing that Jim can be just as intelligent as white people.
- Evidence: “‘But, Huck, dese kings o’ ourn is reglar rapscallions; dat’s jist what dey is; dey’s reglar rapscallions’” (Twain 153)
- Explanation: In this quote, Jim is saying that the Duke and the King are just regular troublemakers. Jim is saying that the Duke and the King are not actually what they say they are. Although Jim is uneducated, he is smart enough to realize that the Duke and King are lying just so they are treated better. Jim is gullible and allows Huck to tell him that the Duke and King are are not imposters but that is not because he is dumb but instead because of how trusting he is.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows that slavery is and was unjustified. The common belief during when the book took place was that all slaves were dumb and not capable of profound thought. White people thought that slavery was okay because they did not think of their slaves as humans; they did not see their slaves as equal to them because they thought their slaves were not as capable as them.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it depicts Jim’s intelligence. Just as Huck is able to realize that the Duke and the King are fakers, Jim too realizes this. Jim is uneducated yet still able to see that the Duke and the King are playing him. This shows that Jim has the brains but just has not been taught. The only reason that Jim does not act on his suspicions of the Duke and the King is because he trusts and believes Huck, who he looks upon almost like a son.
- Evidence: “Some young birds come along, flying a yard or two at a time and lighting. Jim said it was a sign it was going to rain. He said it was a sign when young chickens flew that way, and so he reckoned it was the same way when young birds done it” (Twain 45)
- Explanation: In this quote, Huck is saying that he saw some birds flying away. Huck then says that Jim said that it was going to rain because he saw the birds. Huck says that Jim saw chickens do this same thing once. Jim is applying his knowledge from past experiences in order to infer that it is going to rain. This shows that he is smart because he does end up being correct, as there is a big storm later.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it again shows that slavery is unfounded. White people thought that slaves were all dumb. However, Jim proves that he is not dumb more than once despite being uneducated. This is one of those instances. Jim is able to apply past knowledge to make a prediction, which turns out to be true.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it shows Jim’s intelligence. Jim sees the way birds are acting and knows that it is going to rain. It takes someone both smart and observant to notice something as small as the way a bird is flying and infer that a storm is coming. Jim ends up being right and saves both himself and Huck a lot of trouble.
Topic Sentence #2: Twain displays equality as a major theme in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to show that slavery is wrong by depicting Jim as capable of emotions, considerateness, and compassion.
- Evidence: “I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn. He often done that” (Twain 155)
- Explanation: In this quote, Huck is talking about how Jim took Huck’s watch duty. In the night, either Jim or Huck had to keep watch to make sure that nothing happened to them. Jim usually took first watch and was supposed to wake up Huck when it was Huck’s turn so that he could get some sleep. However, Jim was nice enough to stay up the entire night watching to make sure that nothing happened. He did this multiple times in consideration of Huck.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows that slavery is wrong. In the book, Huck said that he thought that separating families of slaves was okay because slaves were not capable of feeling. Huck, as well as many other contemporary people, thought that slavery was justified because of this. They thought of slaves as below human. Jim shows us that slaves were capable of emotion. Jim did not want Huck to have to stay up and keep watch, so he took Huck’s shift on top of his own. He is considerate and compassionate. Jim is a very good friend to Huck and disproves the belief that slaves couldn’t make emotional attachments.
- Connection to how: The quote connects to the how because it shows that Jim is capable of love, sentiment, and consideration. Jim takes up Huck’s watch duty at the expense of himself. Jim is a very good friend to Huck and almost is like a father to him. Jim is certainly better at fathering Huck than Huck’s real father, Pap. Jim gets less sleep in order to let Huck get more sleep, which shows that he is capable of compassion.
- Evidence: “‘It’s a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face—it’s too gashly’” (Twain 50)
- Explanation: This quote is about when Jim and Huck enter a floating house. Jim sees Huck’s dad, Pap, dead. Jim does not allow Huck to see his dead dad because he does not want Huck to become sad. Jim covers up Pap and tells Huck not to look. He is being considerate and thinking about Huck, once again acting somewhat like a father figure.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows slavery as unfounded again. As said before, white people of the time, including Huck, thought that black people did not have feelings. This was one of the bases of slavery. However, Jim shows that this belief was wrong. Jim goes out of his way in order to make sure that Huck does not have to go through the trauma that would be associated with him finding out that his father died.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it shows Jim’s consideration and compassion. Jim covers up Pap’s body and tells Huck not to look at it because he does not want Huck to find out that his father died and become sad. He also does not want Huck to feel guilty for his father’s death since Huck left his father and allowed him to get blamed for his death. This act of Jim basically just shows that Jim is capable of caring about others.
- Evidence: “He was thinking about his wife and his children, away up yonder, and he was low and homesick; because he hadn’t ever been away from home before in his life…” (Twain 155)
- Explanation: Huck is describing how Jim was constantly thinking about his family in this quote. Hucks says that whenever he woke up, he could usually hear Jim murmuring about his family. Jim really missed his family and wanted to go get them free.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows that the belief that slaves cannot form emotional attachments is untrue. Therefore, slavery is unjustified and unfair. Huck says in the book that he thought it was weird that Jim cared about his family because he thought that slaves were not capable of love. Jim shows that this is 100% false. Everyday that Jim spends with Huck, Jim cannot keep talking about and thinking about his family. All Jim does is wish to see his family again and maybe even free them.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it shows that Jim is capable of emotions. Jim keeps thinking about his family because he loves them sincerely. He murmurs about his family in his sleep because all he can think about is how badly they are being treated and how much he wants to free them.
Topic Sentence #3: Twain utilizes a theme of equality in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn so that he can show that slavery is unfair by having white people acknowledge Jim’s humanity.
- Evidence: “…I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so” (Twain 155)
- Explanation: In this quote, Huck is talking about how Jim cares about his family just as much as white people care about their families. Huck talks about how Jim, a slave, caring about his family is unnatural. Huck has been taught that slaves are subhuman and previously thought they could could not care for others. He realizes that this is not true because of Jim.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows that slavery is baseless by showing through Jim that slaves can indeed have feelings for other people. As Huck says, he thought that slavery was okay because he thought that slaves did not have feelings and were therefore okay with what was happening to them. However, Jim shows an exception to this; all he can think about is his family.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it has Huck, a white person, realizing that Jim is human. Huck realizes that just like white people, Jim cares about his family. In this way, Huck sees Jim as more of an equal.
- Evidence: “‘I mean every word I say, Aunt Sally, and if somebody don’t go, I’LL go. I’ve knowed him all his life, and so has Tom, there. Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she set him free in her will’” (Twain 289)
- Explanation: In this quote, Tom is talking about how Miss Watson freed Jim in her will. Miss Watson felt bad about thinking about selling Jim. She realized that she was wrong to even consider selling Jim after promising that she would not. She realized that Jim was a human being and, in consequence, gave him his freedom.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows the unjustness of slavery. All Jim asked of Miss Watson was that she did not sell him. Jim did not want to be sold away because he wanted to stay near his family. Jim showed from this that he was capable of emotion. Also, Miss Watson freed Jim because she realized that slavery is wrong. She realized that she was treating Jim unfairly in a way that he did not deserve.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because it shows Miss Watson as realizing that Jim is human. Miss Watson set Jim free in her will because she realized that he did not deserve to be forced to be someone’s servant just because of the color of his skin. Although Miss Watson may not have shown it when she was alive, she did end up acknowledging that slaves and white people should coexist equally.
- Evidence: “So there I had to stick plumb until daylight this morning; and I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too, and I see plain enough he’d been worked main hard lately. I liked the nigger for that…” (Twain 285)
- Explanation: In this quote, the doctor is talking about how Jim risked his freedom to help save Tom’s life. Tom was shot while running away from his aunt’s house after they broke Jim out. Huck got a doctor to come help Jim. However, the doctor needed help. Jim was hiding but decided to come out and help Tom instead of running away. This shows Jim’s loyalty and compassion. The doctor says that he likes Jim for his selflessness.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows that slavery is unjustified. As shown in the previous quote, white people thought that slaves did not have emotions. Jim shows this to be untrue. Jim could have just ran away and been free. Instead, he decided to give up his freedom in order to save Tom’s life. This shows that Jim is good, caring, and loyal, all of which are traits that people thought slaves could not have.
- Connection to how: This quote connects to the how because the doctor, a white person, is complimenting Jim. The doctor says that he has never seen a black person that has been so selfless as Jim. The doctor defends Jim and says that he should not be punished. The doctor is basically attesting to the fact that Jim is capable of the same things as white people and is therefore human.
- “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way” (Twain 86)
- Explanation: In this quote, Huck is talking about how he apologized to Jim. Huck almost died but managed to survive and returned to the raft. Huck crawled onto the raft when Jim was looking and then acted like nothing had ever happened as a joke. Eventually, Huck told Jim that it was a joke. This made Jim feel mad and disappointed because he seriously thought that Huck died. So, Huck apologized for making Jim feel this way. Huck talks about how it took him a while before he could get himself to apologize to Jim since Jim was a slave. After apologizing, Huck ends up becoming an equal to Jim.
- Connection to what: This quote connects to the what because it shows the unjustness of slavery by showing Jim’s humanity. After Jim lost sight of Huck, Jim stopped caring about himself and could only think of Huck. This shows that Jim was capable of attachment. Also, Jim believes Huck’s joke, which shows that he is trusting and loyal. Slaves were generally thought to have neither of these qualities, which is why they were considered subhuman. Jim shows that slaves were actually just as human as white people and did not deserve to be treated how they were.
- Connection to how: The quote connects to the how because it shows Huck treating Jim almost like an equal. Usually, white people did not do things like apologize to black people. They did not because they thought of themselves as superior and justified in mistreating their slaves. Huck, however, says sorry to Jim for joking about what happened. Huck basically shows that he respects Jim as a person and acknowledges that Jim is human.
Concluding Thoughts: Basically, Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in order to express his belief that slavery is wrong. Twain showed this belief by depicting Jim as smart, loyal, and compassionate. Jim shows that, although uneducated, he is intelligent multiple times. Some instances include when he predicts it will rain and when he sees the truth behind the Duke and the King. Jim also shows that he is a good person when he risks his freedom to help Tom and tries to shelter Huck from his father’s death. Lastly, Twain shows slavery as bad by having even white people acknowledge that Jim is human. Twain has Jim freed at the end of the book to get across that slavery is wrong. Slavery is an important issue in this world because caused the mistreatment of many people. Although slavery no longer exists, it stemmed from another problem which still exists today: discrimination. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows that people do not deserve to be treated differently because of how they look. Instead, people should be defined by their personality. Essentially, in today’s world, people are constantly stereotyped for things that they cannot control, and it needs to stop.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Bantam Books, 2003.
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