Presentation on theme: "Chapters 35-42. Tom believes there are certain obstacles that Jim must overcome in order to escape, based on silly ideas about prisoners that he has read."— Presentation transcript:
Tom believes there are certain obstacles that Jim must overcome in order to escape, based on silly ideas about prisoners that he has read in adventure books. Example: Although they could easily get Jim out be removing a board nailed across his window, Tom insists that he dig his way out because it is more adventuresome. If they would have followed Huck’s plan, the three of them could have been on the raft that same night.
Jim does not understand the complicated scheme for his escape, but goes along with it. Twain’s satiric point is that whites do NOT know better than blacks. Huck goes along with Tom; he is like the good person who does not speak out against evil. Good people often are opposed to evil, but don’t do anything about it.
Tom does not criticize what he reads in Romantic adventure books; he makes Jim do crazy things because that’s the way it’s done in the books. Tom writes anonymous letters warning of trouble to Silas and Sally. He pretends to be a member of a band of desperate cutthroats who are planning to steal Jim. The letter’s author claims to have found religion, so he wants to offer information to help stop the theft.. He does this to stop Silas from advertising in the papers about the runaway slave and also because the books he has read say to do so. (Anonymous letters often tip off the guards about an escape attempt)
Fifteen farmers with guns gather at the Phelps’ house because of the letters. The men begin to enter the shed to lie in wait for the cutthroats and Tom, Huck, and Jim escape through the hole they cut in the wall of the shed and take their canoe to the island where the raft is hid. Tom gets shot in the leg during the escape (because of his own foolishness) but is delighted with the souvenir of his adventure. Jim and Huck are concerned about Tom’s wound and Jim insists on getting Tom a doctor, even though it will risk his freedom; this confirms Huck’s belief that Jim is “white inside.”
Huck finds a doctor and sends him to the island where Tom and Jim are (Jim is hidden). Huck bumps into Uncle Silas and gets taken home (Aunt Sally is very worried). Tom is brought back by the doctor and some men who have Jim in chains. Although some of the men want to hang Jim, the doctor tells them how Jim sacrificed his freedom to help him remove the bullet from Tom’s leg. When Tom wakes up, he is excited to tell of how he and Huck set Jim free; he is horrified to find out that Jim has been recaptured.
Tom explains that Miss Watson died two months ago and in her will, she set Jim free, regretting she ever considered selling him down the river; this explains how Tom wanted to help set Jim free, despite his up- bringing (he knew he was already free, therefore he wasn’t doing anything wrong). Aunt Polly arrives from Missouri after receiving a letter from Aunt Sally mentioning that Sid had arrived with Tom- she blows the whistle on their false identities.
Part of what makes the book so effective is that Huck is too innocent and ignorant to understand what’s wrong with his society and what’s right about his own transgressive behavior. Although as a child, Clemens held some of the same beliefs that Huck does, his consciousness changed as he grew into adulthood. He developed moral awareness on the subject of race and racism, which can be charted through his writings, his marriage into an abolitionist family, and his exposure to figures like Frederick Douglass.
Something new happened in Huck Finn that had never happened in American literature before. It was a book that served as a Declaration of Independence from the genteel English novel tradition. It allowed a different kind of writing to happen: a clean, crisp, no-nonsense, earthy vernacular kind of writing that jumped off the printed page with unprecedented immediacy and energy; it was a book that talked. Huck’s voice, combined with Twain’s satiric genius, changed the shape of fiction in America, and African- American voices had a great deal to do with making it what it was.
We continue to live, as a nation, in the shadow of racism while being committed on paper to principles of equality. As Ralph Ellison observed, it is this irony at the core of the American experience that Mark Twain forces us to confront head on. History books teach that slaveholding was evil and injustice was the law of the land. But they don’t require you to look the perpetrators of that evil in the eye and find yourself looking at a kind, gentle, good-hearted Aunt Sally. They don’t make you understand that it was not the villains who made the system work, but the ordinary folks, the good folks, the folks who did nothing more than fail to question the set of circumstances that surrounded them, who failed to judge that evil as evil and who deluded themselves into thinking they were doing good, earning safe passage for themselves into heaven.
Throughout the story, Huck is in moral conflict with the values of his society, and while he is unable to refute those values, he makes a moral choice based on his own valuation of Jim's friendship and human worth, a decision in direct opposition to the things he has been taught. Mark Twain in his lecture notes proposes that "a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience.” To highlight the hypocrisy required to condone slavery, Twain has Huck's father enslave him, isolate him, and beat him. When Huck escapes – which anyone would agree was the right thing to do – he then immediately encounters Jim "illegally" doing the same thing.
the institution of slavery and the racist beliefs of the white antebellum society religious hypocrisy the ineffectiveness of government the feuds that existed between southern families con artists and the gullibility of their victims mob mentality the Romantic philosophy and literature man’s inhumanity to his fellow man superstition the conventions/rules of society