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Huckleberry Finn Analysis

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In Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, Huck is a poor uncivilized boy seemingly lacking merit whose treatment of Jim, a slave, evolves over the course of the novel due to Huck’s increasing awareness of his own faults and others’ treatment of enslaved African Americans. Twain utilizes Huck and Jim’s journey down the Mississippi river and their encounters as a physical representation of Huck’s growing maturity and recognition of the unfairness and immortality of slavery over the course of the novel. Between the timeframe of 1845-1855 in which the book takes place, the issue of civil rights and the abolition of slavery is ten to twenty years away, and to the characters in St. Petersburg Mississippi, it is an issue that they do not consider to be something in dire need of solving. In the time before meeting Jim, and until Huck and Jim come to an understanding that they are both effectively people, Huck’s treatment of Jim is synonymous with how other children treated African Americans and slaves: “Tom whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun; but I said no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they’d find out I warn’t in” (p.7). Huck’s refusal to tie Jim to the tree was not out of Jim’s wellbeing, but rather out of saving himself from being caught for being out of the house late at night. Huck’s treatment of Jim at the beginning of the novel was not caused out of purposeful cruelty and dehumanization, but rather from ingrained racism taught by society
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