Beloved and Huckfinn represent slavery, what are the differences and similarities between them?

How can we compare and contrast between the two protagonists?

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Slavery is a very significant theme that has been frequently debated ever since the book Huckleberry Finn presented itself into many schools. Fortunately, Deerfield High School has the pleasure to read this book that has been banned in so many other learning facilities. Mark Twain himself was strongly against slavery; Huckleberry Finn can in many ways be seen as a symbol for why slavery is wrong.

In another book we have read this past semester, Beloved, we have learned the true, harsh reality of slavery and the people that came victim to it. There are some parts in this novel where you think they can't even be described in words, but they were. From immobilizing people to speak by using cruel and unusual devices like the "bit", to seeing black slaves as part human and part animal, there is nothing worse. In chapter 19, Schoolteacher teaches the class to separate a black slaves human side and animal side, "No, no. That's not the way. I told you to put her human characteristics on the left; her animal ones on the right. And don't forget to line them up."(Morrison193). Huckleberry Finn doesn't even come close to telling about the severity of slave life. There is a saying in the writing community, "Write what you know." How can a white man, who wrote about a white little boy, understand the same depth of the slavery experience as a black person? This would be a difficult task for Mark Twain to approach, so he doesn't nearly approach the circumstances of slavery as well as Toni Morrison did in Beloved.

Huckleberry Finn uses Jim, being a slave, as a way of showing the sensitive and real side of a slave, before they are brutalized of course. Everything about Jim is presented through emotions. Jim runs away because Miss Watson was going to sell him South and separate him from his family. "I hear ole missus tell de wider she gwyne to sell me to Orleans..."(Twain 54). He tries to become free so he can buy his family's freedom. He takes care of Huck and protects him on their journey downriver in a very kind manner. Thus, Huckleberry Finn 's purpose is to make the reader feel sympathy for Jim and feel outrage against the society that would hurt him. However, at the same time that Huckleberry Finn is attacking slavery because it creates the issue into the setting for most of the novel. Only at the very end does this book create the main conflict concerning slavery, should Huck free Jim from slavery and therefore be condemned to go to hell? As a result, Huck and Jim never debate slavery itself.

The book Beloved regards the characters and their actions with a mixture of mournfulness, regret, and awe. The tone in Huckleberry Finn is frequently ironic or mocking and is full of pranks and boyish enthusiasm. When approaching slavery in a novel, movie, or any form, it should be done in a way that draws near to the issue, yet in a sad and regretful way. To have slavery as a back round noise to a novel full of mocking and irony as Twain did in Huckleberry Finn is bad-mannered and disrespectful.

The main point is that if authors are going to "Write what you know," then they should abide by that fully and not attempt to recreate something that they were never a part of. Because of who Toni Morrison is and to the depth and reality of what she wrote about, this made Beloved come alive and make the readers better understand the actuality of slavery. Because of whom Mark Twain was and what he was trying to accomplish by writing Huckleberry Finn, he didn't show the full extent of slavery life. The book Huckleberry Finn teaches many lessons and identifies many themes, but the theme of slavery is not to the degree and precision as Beloved is.


"Slavery in Huckleberry Finn and Beloved." 16 Jan 2012 .