Jim (Huckleberry Finn)


Jim (Huckleberry Finn)

Jim is one of two major fictional characters in the classic novel "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain. The book chronicles the journey of Jim and Huckleberry "Huck" Finn down the Mississippi River in the antebellum Southern United States. Jim is an adult African American who has escaped from slavery and is trying to reach freedom. Huckleberry Finn, a 14 year-old white boy, has been taught that slavery is natural and that abolitionism is wicked; nevertheless, after befriending Jim, he decides to help Jim escape.

Character inspiration

Jim may have been modeled after one or more slaves, fix
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or on the "shrewd, wise, polite, always good-natured ..." formerly enslaved [ [http://www.philasun.com/travel05.html "Smooth Traveler: "Missouri, echoes of war (part one)"] , Renée S. Gordon, "The Philadelphia Sunday SUN", undated, retrieved 31 July 2008 ] African-American George Griffin, whom Twain employed as butler, starting around 1879, and treated as a confidant. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9902E2DE153DF93BA25755C0A962958260 "After Long Absence, Twain's Butler Is to Return"] , "New York Times" (6/18/1994): 27.] [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/1994/06/20/topics_40.php American Topics : Mark Twain Butler To Be Memorialized] , "International Herald Tribune", Monday, June 20, 1994]

Fictional biography

Huck had been placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who, together with her sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to "sivilize" him. Tom Sawyer appears briefly, helping Huck escape at night from the house, past Miss Watson's slave, Jim. After Huck escapes from the cabin, elaborately faking his own death, he sets off down the Mississippi River, encountering the slave, Jim, who Huck learns has run away.

Jim's spoken language is written in his native dialect and has enticed a number of academic studies. [Lisa Cohen Minnick, "Jim's language and the issue of race in "Huckleberry Finn"," "Language & Literature" 10.2 (May2001): 111-118.] [Raphaell Berthele, "Translating African-American Vernacular English into German: The problem of 'Jim' in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn," "Journal of Sociolinguistics" 4.4 (Nov2000): 588-613.] Jim is simple and trusting, even gullible. But Jim’s simple nature becomes common sense and helps chooses the right path for him and Huck to follow. Jim recognizes the duke and the king to be frauds. Jim becomes an authority figure in contrast to Huck's abusive father, who can be appreciated for his wisdom and intelligence. Jim realizes he cannot stop the con men from controlling the raft, but tells Huck:

“I doan’ hanker for no mo’ un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin stan’.”

Although Jim can choose to be free, he stays by Tom Sawyer’s side in the end.

Academic reception

Although "Huckleberry Finn" is largely sympathetic to the plight of escaped slaves and critical of the institution of slavery, [Matthew Guinn, "Review of "The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn"," "Southern Quarterly" 37.2 (Winter1999): 175-6.] beginning in the 20th century the novel was frequently criticized for depicting Jim as a stereotype. According to Professor Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia, Twain was unable to fully rise above the stereotypes of black people that white readers of his era expected and enjoyed. Twain therefore resorted to minstrel show-style comedy to provide humor at Jim's expense, and ended up confirming rather than challenging late-19th century racist stereotypes. [Stephen Railton, "Jim and Mark Twain: What Do Dey Stan' For?" "Virginia Quarterly Review" 63 (1987).]

Annemarie Hamlin and Constance Joyner offer "information about the views of the student and the teacher concerning the book's language as well as the portrayal of Jim, the main character of the book." [Annemarie Hamlin and Constance Joyner, "Racism and Real Life," "Radical Teacher" 80 (2007): 12-18.] According to Cliff Notes: "Jim’s logic, compassion, intelligence, and above all, his loyalty toward Huck, Tom, and his own family, establish him as a heroic figure."

References

External links

* [http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/Huckleberry-Finn-Character-Analyses-Jim.id-20,pageNum-91.html Cliffs Notes Jim]


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