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Is the " setting free" of Jim at the end of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry...

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sayantanis | Student, Undergraduate

Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:15 PM via web

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Is the " setting free" of Jim at the end of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn merely a farcial episode? Explain.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 31, 2012 at 10:25 PM (Answer #1)

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In fact, setting Jim free at the end of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a farcial episode.

Just about the time the boys come up with a plan to free Jim, Huck observes:

It shows how a body can see and don't see at the same time.

That is Tom! But Huck is a practical kid. He does things in a simple and straightforward way. Tom Sawyer, however, will do no such thing. It's just not in his nature. While Huck may seem a backwoodsman without much sophistication, he is a lot smarter than Tom. But Tom represents that portion of society that is more polished—he's also rather full of himself.

As the two boys quietly think up separate plans, Huck already knows whose plan will be used—he only thinks about one himself to have something to do. He notes...

I knowed very well where the right plan was going to come from. Pretty soon Tom says, "Ready?"

And so Huck presents a bare-bones plan to steal Jim away, and travel on the raft by night as they had done quite successfully in the past. Tom agrees that the plan would work, but that it would be as exciting as watching paint dry.

...it's too blame simply; there ain't nothing to it. What's the good of a plan that ain't no more trouble than that? It's as mild as goose milk.

Huck is not surprised by Tom's response and sets down to listen to his plan:

He told me what [the plan] was, and I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us killed besides. So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz on it.

Setting Jim free ultimately involves rediculous machinations: Jim sleeping with nasty insects and writing a "journal" on his shirt. Tom's ideas are almost always 98 percent fiction and two percent worthwhile. For Tom, there always an adventure, especially when he can create one. Huck puts it quite nicely as he and Tom explain everything to Aunt Sally and Aunt Polly:

...I had to up and tell how I was in such a tight place that when Mrs. Phelps took me for Tom Sawyer...what when Aunt Sally took me for Tom Sawyer I had to stand it—there warn't no other way, and I knowed he wouldn't mind, because it would be nuts for him, being a mystery, and he'd make an adventure out of it, and be perfectly satisfied.

The other reason it is farsical is because Tom knows when he arrives that Jim is no longer a slave, but had been freed in Miss Watson's will when she died. After Tom is shot in the leg, things get a little out of hand. Resting from his wound, Tom wonders how Jim is doing. He is told that they got Jim back and he's locked up again.

Tom rose square up in bed, with his eye hot, and his nostrils opening and shutting like gills and sings out to me:

"They hain't no right to shut him up! Shove!—and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose! he ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth...Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she set him free in her will.

When asked why he was trying to free Jim when he was already free, Tom explains he did it for the "adventure."

A "farce" is a...

...light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character.

Tom definitely exploits the situation for his own pleasure and entertainment. And while Tom thinks he's pretty smart, Huck is actually the one who sees things more clearly than most.

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