Twain shows that 1 9th century American society was corrupt by hypocritical ways of owe people truly were, despite what their appearance leads to them to seem like. Throughout Husk’s adventure down the Mississippi river, this young boy was continually exposed to the deceit and misguided mindsets of those who lived along the river which presented many dangers to the traveling party of Houck and Jim. In their interactions with others, Twain satirized aspects of society he disagreed with and blatantly emphasized the strong parallels to American society of his time.
Through Twain’s novel he effectively conveys the idea that sometimes people are actually the opposite of what they appear to e to those around them. The most apparent and discussed character which has a deeper meaning is Jim. Throughout the novel Jim is portrayed and described, sadly, as one of the few good-willed-people who has good intentions in Huckleberry Finn. Although Jim is the most patient and caring of Houck in their adventures, he is suppressed and blamed for many of their misfortunes simply because of his background.
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Twain purposefully constructed Jim in such a way that his actions contrasted how society perceived him, proving that often times people are easily the opposite of how they appear. Twain conveys the fact hat Jim has good intentions despite risks when he helps Tom after he’s been shot, even though he will undoubtedly be caught. The doctor even notes that “[Jim] was a better nuns or faithfully, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it, and was all tired out, too”(Twain 285).
Surprisingly, Twain also made it very apparent that Jim had a very kind heart for those around him when Jim pleads to Houck “[When l] went to sleep, my heart wiz moss’ broke bases you wiz ISO’, en didn’t Kerr no’ MO’ what become re me en De rat (Twain 85). Jims actions and even his speech create this image that Jim is not well set to e a part of American society, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is very human and has an excellent ethical standing in how he treats others.
In addition Jim is a runaway slave, so the obvious metaphor to slavery is made, and it is important to note that Jim never resists any treatment he is given because of his loyalty to Houck. All this creates a dilemma for Houck, which parallels the dilemma for many people following the American Civil War. Jims actions show exemplify his “exceptional humanity, his sacrifice, and his influence on Houck and the reader… [these] are the subtle points of metaphor
Twain The purpose of Jim in the novel is to represent the moral issues surrounding blacks before and after the American Civil War, and even with freedom there was still little equality. Sometimes the awfulness that some Whites saw in Blacks was sometimes really the true nature of those whites. The true appearance of some people is often skewed by society’s stereotypes, misleading many to miss a person’s true character and heart. The other group that Twain highly criticizes through metaphor are those who pronounce themselves Christian; however, they do nothing to uphold heir values, but instead often times break their religious standards.
Houck becomes confused on multiple occasions about what he should do simply because either Miss Watson told him to follow a rule that she is currently breaking, or the Shepherdess and Aggressions are blatantly breaking commandments they have placed over themselves. The most ironic example is that of Miss Watson who is a devout Christian, along with many others, who are “self-righteous hypocrites. While they prate about Christian love they own slaves”(Gerber). Now one may argue that owning slaves was the social norm ND essential to be economically productive.
For Miss Watson, this was not her first trespass, “She [told Houck that smoking] was a mean practice and wasn’t clean… And [yet] she took snuff, too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself”(Twain 2). Twain greatly dislikes the group of whites who preach good values yet enslave other humans, and portrays this through Husk’s confusion as he observes contradictorily behavior. Houck meets two families, the Shepherdess and Aggressions, who are in the same position as Miss Watson.
Both of them own slaves, but even more ironically, hen these families go to church “The men took their guns along, and so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy along the walls”(Awaiting). Even better the bunch had “a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace”(Twain 109). Commandments and Christian values aside, if anything these two families were violent criminals who murdered each other. Yes they both had a very nice front to present to those around them, but when it came down to the hard facts, these two families weren’t doing any good despite their beliefs.
The problem is that it wasn’t only religious people at Twain’s time, and by no means were all religious people this way, but it’s very easy to hide behind a face the way these feuding families did in order to accomplish one’s true intentions, creating a true hypocrite. To put it simply, “Their so-called Christian conscience is simply an instrument locally fashioned to keep the dominant social class in control and to help them profit materially. They may not maim or destroy the body, but they brainwash the In Twain’s period, it’s very easy to pick out many examples of this, whether business owners or even politicians.
Twain effectively portrayed the people in the 19th century who profited materially through the lives of certain parties in his novel who betray their ideals by the reality of their actions. Twain displays another example of human hypocrisy through the speech given by Colonel Sherbets to a lynch mob which is chasing him. Sherbets saves his freedom and life by delivering this sermon on a building top: Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people – whereas you’re just as brave, and no braver. Why don’t your juries hang murderers?
Because they’re afraid the man’s reined will shoot them in the back, in the dark – and it’s just what they would do. So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back, and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is… You brought part off 146). After killing an innocent man for being the nuisance he’s always been, Sherbets gets off by his rather insulting speech. He insults the character of the hundred men gathered in front of him that want him hanged, and yet the crowd is so shaken that they cannot take any action.
We see Twain’s other portrayal of a different type of hypocrisy, which escapes responsibility for their actions by attacking others. Such is the easiest way to throw off issues of Twain’s time, such as slavery or reconstruction. By persuading the masses to alter their mindset to fit your opinion, you can accomplish almost anything for good, but this usually never occurred. The largest part of this issue that Twain beautifully illustrated was “a mob [doesn’t] fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their masses… Mob without any man at the head of it is beneath 146). Such was how many people that Twain irritated were able to maintain their grip of power. They could appear very powerful despite being greatly outnumbered and automated. Politicians could incite their agendas, and men of the south could control large plantations without any consequence. On the other side of this viewpoint, this mass represents the sheepishness of the American people at the time. From slaves to simple folk living in the country, anyone was capable of blindly following and being deceived.
People were simply inclined to follow one person’s ideas because it was the popular opinion, just as it is natural for people to do in today’s society. From both sides of this event, we see people who want to uphold justice, but at the same time are incapable of taking action. It is from this mindset that many double standards are formed in society. This two sided way of thinking is a downfall of people, and unfortunately leads to outlets for negative courses of action.
The best reason for most of Twain’s criticism was the situation of American society, and how much of the writing at the time emerged toward the masses. In the 19th century, many workers had very little money, and had no ability to do anything outside their work and home life. With very little money, and a need for a form of entertainment; short cheap writings emerged throughout society for lower-class citizens. Authors often were anonymous and sold short scripts for little to no income, which gave way to rather vulgar content.
Actually, “the cheapness of the dime novels’ construction and the supposed vulgarity of their content that associated them with the working classes, at least as much as their actual audience”(The Audience). This pattern helps to explain much of how freely Twain wrote his novel, without restriction on how offensive his texts actually were. Twain played on this anonymity, in fact Mark Twain wasn’t even his real name, meaning that “the relationship between reader and a strong author figure was often nonexistent, and the interpretive freedom of the audience was unbridled”(The Audience).
Under the guise of a false identity, Twain was able to criticize others, ironically in the same manner of what he was doing himself, not appearing to be who he really was. Twain wrote his novels in such a way that he criticized everything and everyone around him, from the hierarchy of society to other writers that romanticizes every aspect of life, yet he did it all indirectly. By writing a probable fictional event of the time, Twain left much of the interpretation up to readers and critics.
Although, in looking at Twain’s detailed and deep interpretation of society, he in fact fell victim to his own criticism in some ways, only to expose his own faults as well as everyone else’s. Through Twain’s indirect assertion of society’s flaws, Twain exposes the imperfections of both the ‘elite’ and the large masses of people through his satiric metaphors. Many people have to follow double standards created by society to abide by the rules, but everyone is hypocritical in some way, and Twain makes this apparent by picking apart 1 9th century American society.