In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain exhibits a young boy, Huck Finn, who significantly changes his views regarding society; but most notably his perspective on slavery. Due to his separation from ‘sivilization’, Twain creates Huck’s character to represent the “savage” subgroup of society, as he refuses to adopt the traditional Southern views. Because Huck’s adult figure, Miss Watson, discriminated between blacks and whites, Huck felt compelled to do the same. However, he grew to be more sympathetic after being accompanied by a runaway slave, Jim, whom Huck Finn eventually acknowledges as an honest friend who always had his best interest in mind. It is through Huck’s experiences with Jim that Twain unveils his anti-slavery views by developing their relationship and connection as they travel down the river to freedom.
Jim has a compelling desire within him to protect Huck and look out for him on their journey. Jim unknowingly takes on a fatherly role while on the voyage with Huck – treating him with respect and always seeking to protect him. For instance, when Jim and Huck come across a dead body, which turns out to be Huck’s father, Pap, Jim shields him away from seeing the body to prevent Huck from any emotional pain or scarring as it was “too gashly” (59) to look at. Twain juxtaposes Huck’s two ‘father figures’. Unlike Huck’s own father, who beats and exploits him, Jim is compassionate and able-minded.
It is through Jim’s cover-up of Pap’s body that he demonstrates his sensitivity to Huck. Although discrimination and racism were common mentalities in the South, Huck is more open-minded than most people – looking to establish his own belief system. This pivotal moment in the book, shows Twain’s perspective on the malpractice of slavery.
He questions how it is ‘prescribed’ and stresses the importance of not conforming to society through Huck developing his own ideals. He demonstrates that friendship between a white and black person can exist during a time of dissolution. A crucial moment in Huck and Jim’s relationship was Huck’s realization that Jim is more than a slave. As Jim and Huck travel down the Mississippi River, Huck has an internal struggle in regards to turning Jim into the authorities because it was the ‘right thing’ to do to given Jim’s status as a runaway slave.
In recognition to Jim calling him the “de bes’ fren’ I ever had”, (95) Huck could not bring himself to turn Jim in. He decided he would rather “go to hell” (205) in reference to sacrificing his freedom for Jim’s. Due to their growing friendship and loyalty to one another, Huck “never thought no more about reforming” (205). Relying on his emotions, Huck makes an illogical choice based on his own ironic struggle with society. Although society tells Huck helping Jim is morally wrong, Huck goes against this and acts on emotion rather than logic. During the 19th century, the relationship between a white and black person was rarely accepted because of the racism that existed during this time.
Twain attempts to bring equality by writing of an adventure between a slave and a white boy to boycott the ever-growing divide between the nation. Huck finds his own ‘sivilization’ during his voyage down the Mississippi River with Jim. While escaping society, Huck had the freedom to learn and make his own decisions which supplied to his change in outlook on slavery. Huck’s willingness to “go to hell” (205) in order to aid Jim to slavery and Jim’s willingness to protect Huck, both contribute to the overarching theme of racial equality and friendship throughout the novel. Jim and Huck’s journey down the Mississippi River ultimately managed to help them look beyond skin color and focus on character.