Similar to most outstanding literature literary works, Twain's, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has various themes that are developed around the novel's plot. In Twain's text, a story of a white boy Finn, and an escaped slave Jim is told describing their adventures and ethical, moral and individual development in the society. The development of the plot focuses on the adventures of Huck and Jim down River Mississippi which yields many conflicts with the society. Twain's, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been interpreted to have many meanings, most of them being controversial. The relationship between Jim and Huck has not escaped scrutiny. In Twain's novel, the central issue is the relationship between Huck and Jim. From the book, Finn's relationships with different characters are unique; nevertheless, Huck's relationship with Jim is faced by changes as the plot is developed. Because of poverty and lack of education, the society treats Huck as an outcast thus leading to his distrust of the society's morals and intentions. The society fails to protect the young boy from abuse. It is from his uneasiness about his society, together with his developing relationship with Jim that leads Finn to question most of the teachings regarding slavery and race. In the novel, Huck is brought out as a young boy whose origin is the lowest class level of the white society. Huckleberry has a father named, Pap and he is an alcoholic (Hoffman 317). Pap is privileged with the right over Huck's custody not because he is able but since he is his biological father. According to Hoffman, Pap is a person who depicts a noisome, shiftless, and drunk character.
At the beginning of Twain's novel, the relationship between Huck and Jim is one of acquaintance only. The two do not meet regularly, and Huck views Jim like just a mere slave. From Huck's view, Jim is a slave who has no feelings about life and society. At some point, Huck does not stop Tom from to playing tricks on Jim, As Tom says. "He slipped Jim's hat off and Hung it on the tree" (Twain 6). Huck was unbothered by the games since he never thought much about it and he did not care about Jim as he saw him as a mere slave. The incident shows how society's opinion about blacks has influenced huck. After this incident, Jim believes that it was the witches who rode him to the world thus leaving his hat on a tree (Twain 15). In the whole novel, Huck never opens the truth about that incident to Jim.
Huck and Jim's relationships start with the happenings at the widow's garden. In this scene, Tom wants to play with Jim's feelings by tying him (Jim) up, but Huck refuses (Twain 15). Huck is seen to be dealing with morality questions; he feels that it is wrong to tie Jim up while Tom feels it is right. In Tom's presence, Huck is unable to stick to his real ideals and morals for he is still young and, thus, is vulnerable to peer pressure. Huck feel great comfort in the presence of Jim as compared to his relationship with Tom.
As the plot of the novel is developed, Jim and Huck develop a special bond. The special bond is revealed by the time the two set out in the raft. However, Huck is unable to understand that Jim share a strong bond with him until he makes a bad joke that leaves Jim hurt. The joke is seen when Huck mocks Jim telling him that during a time when they were worn out with work and called Jim, he (Huck) was heartbroken and all he could think of was how to make a fool of Jim (Twain 55). This part acts as an eye-opener to Huck that Jim like any other human beings have feelings. From this point, Huck starts treating Jim as a person, and he questions slavery morality. Jim and Huck from this point develop their relationship to a friendship.
With time, Jim begins to play the role of a father in Huck's life. Huck had never felt the role of a father in his life. His father was an alcoholic who never showed him (Huck) any affection or guided him in Huck's daily life. According to Huck, It all began when the two were in the raft, Huck and Jim were filled with peace and satisfaction in this raft (Twain 115). The addiction to alcohol begun as a coincidence because the two managed to sit, bond, and be the real men while no one was bothering them. Jim took up the role of cooking for both of them, and the two took the food it happily enjoying a calm environment away from surrounding societies' chaos. Since they were only two in their raft, they were happy to be associated with no distractors.
As Jim and Huck's adventure continues, Mississippi River that at one time was seemingly magnificent turns to be an escape route that pushes the two far away from their desired freedom. The escape takes them to the further south. The two have their relationship built on determination and togetherness since, in everything they do, they are determined to get positive results. At this point, their raft is plagued by the Dauphin and the duke. Huck and Jim end up spending most of their time on land after this incident. The Duke and the Dauphin are used by the author to represent the coherent phony patters and the challenges encountered by Huck and Jim (Hoffman 320). As much as the Duke and the Dauphin represent the existing unpleasant society, they are among the factors that led to the union of Jim and Huck regardless of their differences. For Jim and Huck to grasp the epiphanies, their ability to isolate themselves from the society played a major role. The two can overcome all the challenges on land and surpass the societal influences. The two felt uneasiness during their stay on land, but they had to cope up with their habits and overcome the emanating challenges.
River Mississippi, just like any other river is always in constant motion which is similar to Jim and Huck's relationship. In the novel, it is only through their consistent motion that the two re able to understand their thoughts. The two are honest with their feelings and thoughts, and this is achieved by the comfort they offer to each other. Their survival in the long adventures was characterized by endurance thus representing the idea that one can overcome everything including that that seems impossible. According to David Smith, Huck Finn has a heart that has a story about real humans who possess have desirable moral and ethical values (Smith 6).
From the above, it is clear that Huck and Jim fight a societal hypocrisy battle which is an obstacle that makes the two create a strong relationship. Although when the novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written slavery was already abolished, the inherent nature of slavery was still in existence. Jim portrays a noble nature that shines better when his society controls him. After developing a relationship with Jim, Huck was able to understand his surroundings and have an actual view of society.
Therefore, the relationship between Huck and Jim was beneficial to the two of them. The author uses Jim as a representation of the way black people living in white society are treated. Twain brings out an aspect of integration when Huck and Jim become friends and Huck starts viewing Jim as a normal human being. In the beginning, Huck would play games and mock Jim as he saw him like just a slave who had no feelings. In this novel, Huck is used by the author to bring out the stages which explain the white people's position on the blacks. Huck brings out the art of acceptance of blacks into the whites society (Hoffman 333). The friendship relation of the two shows the possible ways in which the blacks and the whites can cooperate.
Hoffman, Daniel G. "Black Magic-and White-in Huckleberry Finn." Form and Fable in American Fiction (1961): 317-342.
Smith, David L. "Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse." Mark Twain Journal 22.2 (1984): 4-12.
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Vol. 20. University of California Press, 2003.
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