In Mark Twain s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain develops the plot into Huck and Jim s adventures along the Mississippi River. The two main characters, Huck and Jim, both run from social injustice and both are distrustful of the civilization around them. Huck is considered an uneducated uncivilized boy, constantly under pressure to conform to the humanized surroundings of society. Jim, a slave, is not even considered as a real person, but as property. These two characters grow both as individuals and together throughout the book. Their relationship becomes imperative to the plot of the story.
The first encounter of the two characters happens in chapter two, Our Gang s Dark Oath . Huck sneaks out in the middle of the night to meet up with Tom Sawyer in order to convene with their gang of robbers . As they are sneaking away, they make enough noise to attract the attention of Jim, Miss Watson’s black slave. He comes out of the kitchen to see what caused the noise, and sits down in the dark to wait for it to happen again, but quickly gets tired and falls asleep. As he falls asleep, Huck wants to leave and meet the rest of the gang so that they don t get caught, but Tom insists on playing a trick on Jim. So he lifts Jim’s hat from his head and hangs it on a nearby limb. Huck tells us that Jim later turned this incident into an elaborate tale of being visited by witches while he slept. At this point in the story, Huck doesn t have feelings for Jim one way or the other. Huck just doesn t care much for Jim and sees nothing wrong with the prank that has just been played by Tom.
After staying with his drunken and unreasonable father for a short period of time, Huck grows tired of his current living conditions and see no other way out of this rut, but to escape and runaway. Jim also has the notion to run away from Miss Watson because she is about to sell him and separate him from his wife and kids. Both characters take it upon themselves to sneak away to Jackson s island, not knowing the other s intention to do the same. After spending a few days on the island, they discover each other and after convincing Jim that Huck is not a ghost that has come back from the dead, Huck and Jim exchange stories of how they got there. This is important to both of them, because they both make a promise to each other that they will not tell anybody about their escapes. A normal white boy back in those times would have turned Jim in and collected the reward in a matter of seconds, but because Huck s would have gotten caught himself, he promises not to tell Jim s secret.
Without making it crystal clear to the reader at first, Huck and Jim have decided to be outcasts together and take to the Mississippi River for a chance at a better life. Their trip down the Mississippi takes Huck and Jim on many adventures that bring them closer. An instance of this is shown in Chapter 10, What Comes of Handlin Snake-skin . Huck tries to play a joke on Jim, using a dead rattlesnake that Huck has killed. He takes the rattlesnake and places it at the feet of Jim while he is sleeping. What Huck did not know is that a dead rattlesnake attracts a live one. The live one proceeds to actually bite Jim on the heel causing him great pain. This makes Huck feel bad about what he has done, even though he has done it to a slave, who should not even be considered human in the eyes of Huck. Another instance is shown in the next chapter. After Huck finds out the story that is being passed around by the local townspeople about Huck and Jim, he finds out that they are after Jim, trying to capture him, but they believe that Huck is actually dead. Though Huck knows that he can run off by himself and not have to worry about being found out anymore, he runs back to the raft and says, Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain t a minute to lose. They re after us! (62). This is a key moment in the book because it shows that Huck is willing to continue to travel with Jim and help him to his freedom, even though he does not have to. This is a bold statement by a young white boy back in the times when this story took place, especially from a boy growing up in the South.
Chapter 14, Was Solomon Wise? , also shows how tolerable Huck has become of Jim. After an argument, Huck obviously has won the dispute and is correct, but he leads Jim to believe that he is the one who is correct. Huck gives in without winning the argument. I see it warn t no use wasting words you can t learn a nigger to argue. So I quit (80). This shows that Huck is willing to lose a argument to a slave, and Jim feels comfortable enough to argue with a white person until he wins.
It has been shown so far how Huck feels about Jim, but in Chapter 15, Fooling Poor Old Jim , the reader is shown how Jim feels about Huck. They become lost in a fog, and Huck and Jim are separated for a short period of time. They both are trying to find each other, and finally do when the fog has cleared out. Huck finds Jim asleep on the raft, and decides to play a prank on him. He wakes Jim and pretends that nothing has happened. Jim believes him, but then Huck gives in and tells him that it was just a joke and all of that really did happen. Jim s reply is very emotional, and he tells Huck,
When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos broke bekase you wuz los , en I didn k yer no mo what become er me en de raf . En when I wake up en fine you back ag in, all safe en soun , de tears come , en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo foot, I s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is trash; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren s en makes em ashamed (86).
This is a powerful paragraph by Jim. He tells us that he was ready to die because he didn t think that he would ever see Huck again. But when he finds out that Huck has played a trick on him, he calls Huck trash . This was never even thought of by slaves to call a white man trash . This is a very strong statement in which Jim shows that he really does see them plainly as two people, not a slave and a white man.
Their friendship is tested throughout the rest of the book right up until the end when Huck makes the most important decision in the book. Sitting on his raft, while Jim has been captured and is being held with Tom Sawyer s Aunt and Uncle, Huck must decide whether to go to hell, or to help his friend Jim. Huck knows that if he helps Jim, he would certainly go to hell, and if he doesn t help Jim and writes a letter to Miss Watson telling her the whereabouts of Jim, he will be captured and returned to slavery. Huck goes against everything that he knows is proper and decides to help Jim. All right, then, I ll go to hell (214). This simple quote shows that they have truly become friends and would do anything to help one another, even to the extent of going to hell.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows how two complete opposites can come together for a common goal. Huck and Jim symbolize all that is good in a growing friendship and trust between two people. Mark Twain, obviously thought that the racial hatred and discrimination that was going on during his lifetime was wrong and he expressed this through his writing in a subtle but honest way.