Huck Finn

Chapter XXIX

Thesis

Twain uses Jim's character as a symbol of Huck's moral responsibility through his development of Jim as a father-like figure and friend.

What Is Happening?

In this chapter, Huck is at the Wilkes' with the king and duke, while Jim remains disguised on the raft. The separation of the two reveals a change in Huck's behavior, as he is not as careful when Jim is not around. Huck gets into much more trouble without Jim by his side, both because Jim acts as a father figure for Huck and because when they are together, Huck is more cautious not to get caught with Jim. Upon the reunion of the two at the end of the chapter, Huck expresses his excitement for being reunited with Jim, and Jim does the same, indicating the mutual love formed between the two.
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Huck's Thoughts on Reuniting with Jim

“So, in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us”(218).
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What This Means?

“Huck's developing relationship with Jim complicates his worldview, however.... When forced to cross ideological boundaries, Huck is able to question their naturalness. At this moment, friendship begins to displace white privilege as the guiding principle of Huck's relationship with Jim.”( Smith 33)
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Given the Time Period....

"Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery the great sin and shame of America!" (Douglas para. 6)

So What?

In this chapter, Huck's love and dependency on Jim is portrayed. Jim's silence in the first part of the chapter reveals Huck's issues regarding responsibility. Huck tries to do right by the Wilkses', but acts carelessly and winds up in custody alongside the king and duke. This carelessness can be attributed to Huck's separation from Jim because Jim serves as a father like figure and a person Huck focuses on keeping safe. As a result, Huck acts with much more caution when he is around Jim.

We also see the growth of friendship and love between Jim and Huck in this chapter. At the very end, Huck reunites with Jim and both men are very excited to be together again. This shows that both consider each other more than just acquaintances. Jim and Huck share a mutual love for one another, despite the difficult circumstances put in front of them. As shown in Douglas' description of America during this time, America is grossly racist society. Huck and Jim's unconventional relationship uncovers how Huck's sense of moral responsibility outweighs his responsibility to the racist laws of society. Huck chooses Jim's love over following the rules because Jim is no longer a runaway slave in Huck's eyes, but is instead his only real family.