The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Hi people, I'd like to read your opinion on the following:

Many readers of Huckleberry Finn consider the ending flawed, while others praise it.

Defend or criticize the novel’s ending, focusing on Huck’s treatment of Jim?

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It's not Huck's treatment of Jim that is flawed--it's Tom's. Tom Sawyer, the educated and "civilized" boy, behaves abominably, following the books he has read and toying with a free man's life purely for his own amusement. In contrast, Huck Finn, the ignorant and "uncivilized" boy, wants to treat Jim kindly and with common sense. This is Mark Twain's commentary on the value of book learning.

I kinda wanna challenge the last post. Tom is bad to Jim only once, and it is done when Jim is about to blow the cover off the Sid, Tom, Huck name swap saga. Even at this, however, he passes a sly look to Jim that says this is all an act. Then to conclude the novel, it is Tom who sings out that Jim is as free as any crittur. Huck tortures Jim through the whole novel. Remember the revelation to conclude chapter 15? I think the whole point was that Huck was institutionally racist, in that all his beliefs were derived from training, but as he pesters Jim, he realizes all the hype about blacks not having human emotions is tripe. Huck never misses a chance to give Jim hell, and even remember, Huck can redeem Jim at anytime by sending a letter to Mrs. Watson.

Abdul, I'll have to challenge you back. I do agree that Huck is institutionally racist but realizes the error of his ways and decides he'd rather go to hell than write that letter to Miss Watson--but he believes the letter will condemn Jim, not free him. Remember, Jim had run off, so notifying his owner of his presence would result in his being hanged for escaping (in Huck's mind, anyway, since he does not know that Jim has been set free). This realization is the climax of the novel, as Huck rejects the norms of society--even to the point of damnation--in favor of a man he loves and trusts.

Tom's mistreatment of Jim goes on and on throughout the "escape" game. Tom knows Jim is free, but he plays out the whole nonsense of notes on plates, pet spiders, eating bed-leg filings, stealing bed sheets, . . . Why doesn't Tom admit what he knows immediately? Because he wants to create an adventure like the ones he has read about.

(Didn't Tom also tell Jim a story in the beginning of the novel just to scare him, and also take his hat and hang it in a tree to make him think spirits took it?)

The "educated" boy plays around at Jim's expense, while the "ignorant" boy shows more compassion and common sense.

When Jim is sold into slavery and Huck goes to save him, we naturally worry for them. Mark Twain has tricked us by making us "unindicted co-conspirators." We no longer observe the narrative as outsiders we, like Huck and Jim, DO NOT enter the the world of the slave owning South, which is sometimes cruel and always over burdened with rules. The three of us enter the imagination of Tom Sawyer, which is sometimes cruel and always over burdened with rules. Huck and Jim comply because they don't believe they have a choice, although both lobby for relaxation of the rules. The pain and rage we feel plowing through the ending has a sort of parity with the pain and rage Huck and Jim experience in a society that does not value their personhood. It is the Deus Ex Machina ending of the convenient deaths stops the storyline cold.