The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

What effect does Twain create through the story of Jim's deaf daughter

chapter 23

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Jim bares himself emotionally to Huck, expressing a poignant longing for his family and admitting his errors as a father when he tells of the time he beat his daughter when she did not deserve it. Jim’s willingness to put himself in a vulnerable position and admit his failings to Huck adds a new dimension of humanity to his character. Jim’s nobility becomes even more apparent when we recall that he has been willing to forgive others throughout the novel, even though he is unable to forgive himself for one honest mistake. As we see in these chapters, Jim’s honesty and emotional openness have a profound effect on Huck. Having been brought up among racist white assumptions, Huck is surprised to see that ties of familial love can be as strong among blacks as among whites. Although Huck’s development is still incomplete—he still qualifies his observations a bit, noting that it doesn’t seem “natural” for Jim to be so attached to his family—his mind is open and he clearly views Jim more as a human and less as a slave.