AD's English Literature : Adolescence Myth : Dreadful Activities of Huck and Jim in Jackson Island

Adolescence Myth : Dreadful Activities of Huck and Jim in Jackson Island


"It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger—but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither."
Mark Twain  (1835 - 1910)
 
Journey of Huck and Jim in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn   is not given ready-made -- not to any previous novel at least. That is the dignity of Adolescence Myth, and the danger too. Compared the story of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to all other previous stories are looked upon ready-made, preprogrammed. Their whole plot is a simple unfoldment of something built-in. They need not portray   their  story in  mechanical way. It can't be good, it can't be bad; it simply is.  These  stories  are meaningless as far as existence below humanity is concerned. They become immensely significant referred to particular man not to every man. Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a tale of everyman. It is a saga of Adolescence Myth.

As we all know, Jim has a special situation. He is born like all other Americans but with a difference -- a difference that really makes a difference. Read more about American Literature The difference of race is of tremendous value to understand, because one may go on avoiding it and to avoid it is to avoid your true life. There is every possibility to remain oblivious of it, because it seems more convenient and more comfortable not to be reminded of it. To be reminded of it means a great challenge: a challenge to adventure into the unknown, into that which is not preprogrammed. It is an adventure to identity, self-hood and freedom. Huck's story is the same saga of the same ideology. It is all possible in adolescence exuberance.

Huck runs away to Jackson’s Island where he meets another runaway, Jim, Miss Watson’s slave who is running to freedom in fear of being separated from his family and sold south. As they raft toward freedom, Huck questions what is commonly accepted as right and wrong in the world and chooses to align himself with friendship, kindness, love, and freedom. Among their adventures with wrecked ships, murderers, heavy fog, slave hunters. A study of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an adventure in understanding changes in America itself. The book, at the center of American geography and consciousness, asks readers to reexamine definitions of “civilization” and freedom, right and wrong, social responsibility and inhumanity. Huck spends three peaceful, lonely days on the island, living on plentiful berries and fish and able to smoke whenever he wishes. Read more about American Literature After Huck meets Jim on Jackson's Island, the two travel down river on a raft that comes to symbolize their brotherhood and freedom. Hoping to drift to Cairo, Illinois, where Jim can escape to freedom, they are diverted by a fog and travel southward to Arkansas instead. The trip ties together a series of adventures which, as many commentators have remarked, contrast the peace and freedom of the raft with the violence, corruption, and constraint of the shore.Huck Finn, the hero, picaro, and narrator of the work, is a motherless boy, abused and kidnapped by his drunken father until he fakes his own death and runs away. It is Huck’s vision through which readers will see other characters and events of the novel and his resolution to the moral dilemmas with which he is faced. Jim, Miss Watson’s slave, runs away when he learns that he will be sold South and separated from his family. His goal is to journey up the Ohio River to free states where he will work and save money to purchase the freedom of his wife and family. Despite his plans to steal himself, Jim becomes Huck’s friend and parent figure on their adventures, and Huck resolves to go to hell rather than betray his friend’s trust.
 
He spends his nights counting fen boats and tars on the tranquil river. On the fourth day, while exploring the island, Huck is delighted to find him, who at first thinks Huck is a ghost. Huck is pleased that he will not be alone on the island but shocked when Jim explains that he has run away. Jim says that he overhead Miss Watson discussing selling him for $800 to a slave trader who would tell him to New Orleans, separating him from his family. He runs into a old campfire and decides to go back and see who it was, then he sees the campfire the next night and sees Jim sleeping there and comes out shouting hi Jim. Jim is there because miss Watson was going to sell him somewhere in New Orleans for $800 so he ran away and came to the island.Read more about American Literature  Jim left before Miss Watson had a chance to decide whether or not to sell him. Jim and Huck discuss superstitious—in which Jim is well-versed—and Jim’s investments, proved to be scams. Jim is not too disappointed by his failures, since he still has his hairy arms and chest, which, according to his superstitious are a sign of future wealth.

After spending three days by himself on the island, Huck is shocked to discover that somebody else is living there as well. When he discovers that it was Jim, the slave of Miss Watson, he is delighted to see him, once he has managed to convince Jim that he is not actually a ghost who has come to haunt him. Note how Huck responds to discovering he is sharing the island with Jim:
"I was ever so glad to see Jim. I warn't lonesome now. I told him I warn't afraid of him telling the people where I was."

Thus we can see that Huck is very pleased to find Jim, because he now no longer feels lonely and isolated. To be able to share his solitude with somebody else makes it that much more bearable.In order to go to a hiding place where visitors arrive on the island, Jim and Huck take the canoe and provisions into large cave in the middle of the island. Jim predicts that it will rain, and soon a storm blows in. The two safely wait it out inside the cave. The river floods; and a washed-out house float down the river past the island. Inside, Jim and Huck fine the body of. A man who has been shot in the back. Jim prevents Huck from looking at the “ghastly” face. Jim and Huck make off with some odds and ends from the houseboat. Huck and Jim hide in the bottom of the canoe so that hw won’t be seen, and they make it back to the island safely.
Read more about American Literature

Huck wonders about the dead man, but Jim warns that it’s bad luck to think about such things Huck has already incurred bad luck, according to Jim, by finding and handling a snake’s shed skin. Sure enough , bad luck comes: as a joke, Huck puts a dead rattlesnake near Jim’s sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim. Read more about American Literature Jim leg swells but gets better after several days. A while later Huck decides to go ashore to get information. Jim agrees, but has Huck disguise himself as a girl, using one of the dresses they took from the houseboat Huck practices his girl impersonation and then sets out for the Illinois shore. In a formerly abandoned shack, he finds a woman who looks about forty years old and appears to be a newcomer to the town. Huck is relieved because, as a newcomer, the woman will not be able to recognize him. Still, he resolves to remember that he is pretending to be a girl. The woman lets Huck into the shack but eyes him suspiciously. 
Huck introduces himself as “Sarah Williams” from Hookerville. The woman chatters about a variety of subjects and eventually gets to the topic of Huck’s murder. She reveals that pap was a suspect and that some townspeople nearly lynched hint then, people begin to suspect Jim because he ran away the same day Huck was killed. Read more about American Literature  Soon, however, suspicious again turned against Pap, after he squandered on alcohol the money that the judge gives him to find Jim. Pap left town before he could be lynched, and now there is a $200 reward being offered for him. Meanwhile, there is a $300 bounty out for Jim. The woman has noticed smoke over Jackson’s Island and has told her husband to look for Jim there. He plans to go there tonight with another man and a gun.

The woman looks at Huck suspiciously and asks his name. He replies, “Mary Williams.” When the woman asks about the change, he tries to cover him self by saying his full name is “Sarah Mary Williams”. She asks him to try to kill a rat by throwing a lump of lead at it. He nearly hits the rat, increasing her suspicious. Finally, he asks him to reveal his real male identity, saying she understands that he is runaway apprentice and claiming she will not turn him in to the authorities. Huck says his name is George Peters and describes himself as an apprentice to a mean farmer. Read more about American Literature  She lets him go after quizzing him on several farm subjects to make sure he is telling the truth. She tells Huck to send for her, Mrs. Judith Loftus, if he has trouble.

Back at the island, Huck builds a decoy campfire far from the cave and then returns to the cave to tell Jim they must leave. They hurriedly pack their things and slowly ride out on a raft they found when the river flooded.

Huck and Jim build a wigwam on the raft and append a number of days drifting downriver, traveling by might and hiding by day to avoid being seen. On their fifth night out, they pas the great lights of St. Louis. The two of them “live pretty high,” buying, stealing, or hunting food as they need it. Read more about American Literature  They feel somewhat remorseful about the stealing, however, so they decide to give up a few items as a sort of moral sacrifice.

One stormy night, they come upon a wrecked steamboat. Against Jim’s objections, Huck goes onto the wreck to loot it and have an “adventure”, the way Tom Sawyer would. On the wreck, Huck overhears two robbers threatening to kill a third so that he won’t “tell”. One of the two robbers manages to convince the other to let their victim be drowned with the wreck. The robbers leave. Read more about American Literature  Huck finds Jim says they have to cut the robbers’ boat loose to prevent them from escaping. Jim responds by telling Huck that their own raft has broken loose and floated away.

Huck and Jim head for the robber’s boat. The robbers put some stolen items in their boat but leave in order to take some more money from their victim inside the steamboat. Jim and Huck Jump into the robber’s boat and head off as quietly as possible. Read more about American Literature When they are a few hundred yards away, Huck feels bad for the robbers left stranded on the wreck because, after all, he himself might end up a murderer someday. Huck and Jim find their raft and then stop so that Huck can go as hore to get help.

Once on land, Huck finds a ferry watchman and tells him his family is stranded on the Walter Scott steamboat wreck. Huck invents an elaborate story about how his family got on the wreck and convinces the watchman to take his ferry to help. Huck feels proud of his good deed and thinks the Widow Douglas would have approved of him helping the robbers because she often takes an interest in “rapscallions and dead beats”. Read more about American Literature Jim and Huck sink the robbers’ boat and then go sleep. Meanwhile, the wreck of the Walter Scott drifts downstream and, although the ferryman has gone to investigate, the robbers clearly have not survived.

Jim and Huck find a number of valuable among the robbers’ bounty from the Walter Scott, mostly books, cloths, and cigars. As they relax in the woods and wait for nightfall before travelling again. Huck reads books from the wreck, and the two discuss what Huck calls their “adventures.” Jim says he doesn’t enjoy adventures, as they could easily end in his death or capture. Huck astonishes Jim with stories of kings, first reading from books and then adding some of his own, made-up stories. Jim had only heard of King Solomon, whom he considers a fool for wanting to chop a baby in half. Huck can not convince Jim otherwise. Huck tells Jim about the dauphin (whom Huck mistakenly calls the “dolphin”), the son of the executed King Louis XVI of France. The dolphin currently is rumored to be wandering America. Jim refuses to believe that the French do not speak English, as Huck explains. Huck tries to argue the point with Jim but gives up in defeat. 

Although regarded as a classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has engendered controversy from the start. The Concord Public Library in Massachusetts banned it shortly after publication. In reporting approvingly of this action, the Boston Transcript noted that members of the library committee found the book 'the veriest trash' and 'rough, coarse, and inelegant.' The Springfield Republican found the novel 'a gross trifling with every fine feeling' and 'harmful.' These objections, grounded on the view that only idealized portrayals of young persons can be edifying, can be dismissed easily by contemporary readers; more serious, however, are charges that the book encourages racism.

 Ardhendu De  
Ref: 
1. Waldmeir, Joseph J and Frederick I Svoboda, eds. Hemingway: Up in Michigan perspectives, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1955.
 2. Baker, Carlos. Hemingway: The Write as Artist. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1972.
 3 . SHLENSKYA, JANE . TEACHER’S Guide TO THE SIGNET CLASSICS EDITION OF MARK TWAIN’s ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

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