Presentation on theme: " Twain was a humorist – but sometimes the humor vanished, and the result were ugly, bitter comments about the human race, such as Sherburn’s speech."— Presentation transcript:
Twain was a humorist – but sometimes the humor vanished, and the result were ugly, bitter comments about the human race, such as Sherburn’s speech. Huck shows he is still a simple kid when he is taken in by the circus master’s ruse. Jim’s pining for his family, and Huck seems surprised, which indicates he still doesn’t think of Jim as quite human, even if he is friends with Jim. Jim’s account of his actions toward his deaf daughter shows us how human Jim really is.
“…I do believe [Jim] cared as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so.” In the slave-holding society of Huck’s time, African Americans are regarded as cattle, incapable of experiencing any of the deeper of finer human feelings. Therefore, their God- ordained role is that of insensible beasts of burden.
Huck does not consciously question the values of his society. Thus, he initially has difficulty accepting Jim’s humanity: The concept that a black man has the same capacity to love his family as white people does run contrary to everything Huck has been taught.
It is Huck’s loving heart that allows him to rise above the conditioning of his society and recognize Jim as a fellow human being with a soul. Although Huck never questions the rightness of slavery, his acceptance of Jim’s humanity unconsciously denies any moral justification for slavery.
“…All kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out…” (Jim) Huck reflects Twain’s own contempt for European aristocracy when he says, “They don’t do nothing…They just set around – except maybe when there’s a war; then they go to war. But other times they just lazy around.”
Jim calls the king and duke rapscallions because of their blatant dishonesty. But rapscallions are rogues rather than villains: Their rascality may range from mere mischief to trickery, fraud, and theft but never to crimes of complete moral depravity such as murder or rape.
The plan to have Jim get in costume on the raft is a plot device that allows Huck and the con men to stay in town for several days. The town’s reaction to the con men’s story about being the deceased man’s relatives made Huck say to himself, “It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.”
Why does Huck go along with this shameful behavior? Jim, whom Huck knows is in a dangerous situation with these ruthless characters. Twain expresses disgust with more than the con men – he also is disgusted with the narrow vision of the townspeople. It all adds up to an indictment of all of us.
Imposter: one who practices deceit or fraud by pretending to be someone he is not. The King is a double impostor: He is not really a king and is now assuming the false identity of Parson Harvey Wilks so that he can steal from the deceased Peter Wilks’ estate.
The novel is filled with impostors, thus pointing up the hypocrisy of the society. Even Huck becomes an impostor on several occasions, although, when he assumes a false identity, it is to either protect Jim or himself rather than commit fraud.
Chapter 27 ends with Huck expressing his pleasure that “I’d worked it all off onto the niggers, and yet hadn’t done the niggers no harm by it.” His practical approach to morality is still much in evidence, but he’s also unwilling to hurt other people when it can be avoided. Huck is startled and puzzled by the discovery that in a tight spot it might actually be better and safer to tell the truth than lie. He compares himself to Judas, however – in keeping with his low self-image. Mary Jane’s willingness to pray for Huck may lead him to fall in love for the first and only time in his life.