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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Jim - 1412 words
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.. nnot rationalize slavery, in the case of the pre-Civil War American South that reason was that African-Americans were to some degree subhuman. This idea was endorsed by the local organized religious faiths and clergy, and thus deemed morally fit and proper. "Real religion should be something that liberates men. But churches don't want free men who can think for themself and find their own divinity within. When a religion becomes organized it is no longer a religious experience but only superstition and estrangement." (Fellini)It would be remiss of me not to mention that to some Jim represents an unconscionable "Uncle Tom" character.
This has always struck me as rather silly overall, as Jim's character exhibits the more strength, courage, valor, gallantry, and loyalty than any other character in the entire novel, espousing these ideals and principles while searching for his freedom and the freedom of his family. That for that reason and for the use of the word "nigger" in a 1800's poor white Missourian dialect, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is now considered by some to be racist and unfit for educational use is frightening. After Twain spends the entire book writing on the repulsiveness of slavery and bigotry, he is now plagued with focus groups and local government officials an editors trying to make themselves names. He's probably doing merry flip-flops in his grave. "There is more than one way to burn a book
And the world is full of people running around with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italia/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zioninist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women's Lib/Republicans, Mattachine/Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme." (Bradbury 149). Jim is a moral compass for Huck who has been utterly failed by his authority figures in that area. Jim ensures that Huck gains the knowledge to effect good decisions. Twain portrays Jim's judgment of situations as the correct moral view. It is Jim that exposes the meanness of Huck's joke after the night of the fog.
It is once again Jim that sees that the Duke and the King are 'reglar rapscallions' (116). Huck's reaction to Jim being sold by the Duke and the King reveals the depth of their friendship. Instead of being relieved at not having to make the moral decision of whether or not to free Jim, he 'set down and cried.'(159). Adams argues that 'Jim's function . . .
has been to test . . . Huck's growing moral strength and mature independence' (Adams 92). When Huck mockingly asks Jim to interpret the meaning of the trash on the raft, 'rather than taking each item of debris and divining its meaning as Huck requests, Jim takes each act of kindness and concern he has shown Huck Finn over the course of their journey and defines for the boy, perhaps for the first time in Huck's life, the meaning of friendship, loyalty, and filial or family responsibility.' (Chadwick-Joshua 56).
By then "humbling himself to" Jim Huck was not only accepting Jim as his friend, but he was also accepting a different set of ethical values. It is Huck's friendship with Jim that 'makes possible his moral growth' (Cox 73). Jim's comment, 'you's de only fren' ole Jim's got now' (67), when Huck is paddling off to turn him in, stops Huck and forces him to decide in favor of Jim. The memory of Jim's friendship keeps Huck on the right track. When Huck remembers their friendship, he realizes he will not give up his friend 'and couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me [Huck] against him, but only the other kind' (161). At this point Huck fully gives up his belief in the rightness of the beliefs Miss Watson gave him, and now only believes in their righteousness.
Jim's character shows a great deal of growth in the final chapters, despite Marx's statement that the ending 'jeopardizes the significance of the entire novel' (Marx 54). He doesn't fight or wail and complain (other than about the snakes and extra work of escaping.) Jim is brave in his less than glorious getaway and the sacrifice Jim is willing to make in order to help Tom Sawyer, a boy who has caused Jim nothing but trouble, is an amazing testament to the loyalty and faithfulness of the slave/free man. That Jim forgives Tom his cruelty in leaving him "a prisoner" is hard to wrap one's mind around, but very true to Jim's character. Over the course of the book, Jim goes from being a respected man among his fellow slaves, to a respected man among all men, because he is an esteemed and noble friend who has earned that respect.At the emotional climax of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck says one of the most moving lines in all of literature, seven words that hold so much mass and volume, "Alright, then, I'll go to hell." (162). I cried the first time I read that line, I cried the second time I read that line, and I've cried every time I've read that line since.
Coming from a Christian background, I can sympathize with the difficulty of that decision and I don't know that I'd make the same one. Once again though, I found that Jim's distance education role was largely ignored in this scene. Directly before making the now famous statement, Huck was writing a letter to turn in Miss Watson's slave. He ripped up that letter, not because he had a sudden epiphany or a sign from God, not because an authority figure counseled him, and not because he reasoned through all of the potential moral ramifications concerning slavery in his country. He ripped that letter because Jim proved his humanity and because Jim had shown himself to be an equal.
Huck ripped up the letter and rejected salvation because Jim was his friend. Jim is the driving force in this work. He is the support that keeps Huck alive and physically, personally, emotionally, and morally healthy. He is the catalyst through which Mark Twain can put forth his ideas on the subject of slavery. Jim is an exceptional character and a role model for which to strive.
He is 'the true visionary center of the novel' (Chadwick-Joshua xx). ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY -Mike Hermann -- Federico Fellini, interview, Harry Reasoner, 60 Minutes (1981) Adams, Richard P. 'The Unity and Coherence of Huckleberry Finn.' Marks 82-94. As the title indicates, Adams focuses on the unity of the novel as a whole. He defines the theme as 'the growth of an individual personality' (94), namely Huck.
According to Adams, Huck Finn is separated into three distinct units by Huck's decisions to help free Jim. Adams also discusses different themes, such as the rebirth pattern, and how they support the unity of the book. This selection is an excellent source to help understand the work as a whole. Unfortunately, it does not contain much on the actual character of Jim. Chadwick-Joshua, Jocelyn.
The Jim Dilemma. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1998. NetLibrary. 1 April 2003. . Cox, James M.
'Remarks on the Sad Initiation of Huckleberry Finn.' Marks 65-74. This essay discusses the significance of the role Tom Sawyer plays in the novel. Cox analyzes Huck's initiation into society, comparing and contrasting it to Tom's initiation into society in Twain's previous novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Cox finishes the essay by discussing the role of Jim in relation to Huck's moral values and emotions. This source offers valuable insights into the role of Jim as 'the central figure of the book' (73). Marks, Barry A.
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Boston: D.C. Heath, 1959. Marx, Leo. 'Mr. Eliot, Mr.
Trilling, and Huckleberry Finn.' Marks 53-64. Trilling, Lionel. 'The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn.' Marks 44-52. Trilling discusses the greatness of the novel in its 'truth of moral passion' (45). He places a great deal of importance on the river as a god. He also emphasizes Huck's moral virtues.
The only negative comment is about the length of the ending, but other than that, Trilling gives a whole-hearted endorsement of Huckleberry Finn. This essay provides a few good observations regarding Huck and Jim, but on the whole, it lacks a critical edge. Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Dover, 1994.
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