Portrayal of Jim’s Life in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain, who is a realistic fiction writer, incorporates satire and humor in his writing, including Archetypal elements to modify how the reader interprets the story. He uses many archetypal characters like Huck and Jim who both can be argued as the heroes. They both have good intentions and help others. Mark Twain portrays Jim as a deeply caring and loyal friend. Jim becomes a father figure to Huck, helping him realize the human face of slavery. Twain Portrays Huck as a young and naive boy who has been under the wrong influence for a long time. Another archetypal element that Mark Twain uses is Jims Quest for freedom. This was a quest for most all African Americans, to run away north so you could be free. But Jim was one of the few who was brave enough to do so; that’s he can be classified as the hero in the story. But Jim’s life is not too bad compared to historical records about the lives of slaves. Even though he had to struggle for his freedom, he didn’t have any good reason to leave. His life contested of helping round and not doing hard enduring work like some of the other slaves. The way Jim’s life is portrayed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Mark Twain criticizes the life of African Americans at the time.
During times of slavery, every African American in the south was either a slave or a free African American. “She treated me with respect” (Twain 5). Jim said when he was asked about how the Widow Douglass treats him. This shows that the life of Jim was not that bad, he had everything a slave at that time could want, and his owner did not disrespect him. Also most slaves were abused and almost beaten to death. Twain tries to represent the hardships of slaves on a daily basis when he doesn’t portray Jim’s life to be much difficult “Even though Jim was a slave, he was treated like a family member” (Ralph 6). Jim was a house slave and did not have to do hard work in the fields for long hours. In page 3 in Ralph’s Article, he says “Jim had to no motive to leave, he wanted freedom but it would be harder for him because he wouldn’t have all the amenities he had when he was a slave” (Ralph 4).

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If Jim left he would had to start all over, which means that he would have had to start from nothing and for a slave that would be near impossible to earn enough money to support his family. The Widow Douglass was not cruel to Jim, she wasn’t harsh at all. Twain does not show the hardships that slaves had to endure with their owners. He only shows the racism involved and how society viewed slaves.

Life in the south for African Americans during the time of slavery was rough, they were treated like property and often sold like property. “There were no beds, food or water for the slaves. They were treated as if they were machines, and their only purpose in life was to work until death” (Lance 1). This shows that as life was harsh and cruel for slaves, they were not treated like humans but as animals that could be worked till they could work no more. Most of the men worked on the fields, they worked long and hard hours. Most of the women worked in the house cooking, cleaning and taking care of the owner’s children but sometimes worked outside alongside their husbands. “Most Slaves worked long and hard hours, they were mistreated and were not taken care of, the owners were not hesitant to kill them” (Johnson 6). Jim’s life revolved around just helping out the widow Douglass, not real enduring work. The way Jim’s life is portrayed is nothing compared to other slaves. Other slaves, regardless of the gender worked countless hours in the fields picking cotton and doing other jobs for very minimal or no pay from their owners. Because to own slaves was an alright thing and working them extensively was common; and most of the slaves were weak and afraid to oppose their owners.

The way Jim’s life is portrayed is nothing compared to other slaves. Even though slaves were classified as uneducated and dumb, Jim did not fit into those stereotypes. “Starting in the mid 1700's, several states passed laws prohibiting slave education. While these laws typically did not clarify any consequences for the slaves who might attain literacy, the financial consequences for teachers were clear” (Johnson 3). It was highly illegal to educate a slave in any way. “Well he was right, he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger” (Twain 39). This shows how Jim was concerned smart, even though slaves were stereotypically not intelligent.” Most slaves didn’t even know how to count or speak any language other than their native tongue” (Johnson 4). “As historians believe most slaves were not capable of learning, even though they were around White people most of their lives “(Johnson 5). Most slaves typically came off the boat and were sold and started work instantly, so how could of Jim have been so intelligent. “In the 18th century there were no schools in the southern states of America that admitted African American children to its free public schools. Fearing that African American literacy would prove a threat to the slave system whites” (Jackson 3). This clearly shows that slaves had no way of getting an education. “A black person going to school in the south was concerned a bigger crime than killing a man” (Johnson 2). This shows how restricted it was for a person of African American background to get a formal education in the south. This Article also said that the only possible knowledge that slaves could get was if it was passed down from generation to generation. But the chances of real knowlegeful information being passed down was illogical. “The way that Twain Portrays Jim does not match up with the historical background of slaves at the time” (Johnson 2).

The way Jim’s life is portrayed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Mark Twain criticizes the life of African Americans at the time. It has been proven by most historical documents and historians that slaves were not smart and intelligent, despite the stereotypes of African Americans at the time, Mark Twain still portrayed Jim as a smart and knowlegeful person. Also even though Jim was just a house slave he went through no hardships while being a slave for The Widow Douglass. The only real struggle that Jim faced throughout the novel was hiding while traveling with Huck. But in the end Jim’s “struggles” went in vein when he was already a free black. Before Miss. Watson passed away she had freed Jim in her will.



Works Cited

Dunny, William. "Free Blacks Lived in the North, Right?" The Root. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
Manning, James.“Huck Finn” “Huck Finn Arcytipes. Virginia University, n.d web 23 Mar 2014
Manning, John. "Education of Slaves." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2014
Louis, Henry. "Life as a Slave." American Abolitionist. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Deluxe ed. New York: Penguin Classics, 1985. Print.





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