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What does Jim's story about the way he treated his deaf daughter in Chapter 23 of...

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h20polo4me13 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 14, 2008 at 1:57 PM via web

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What does Jim's story about the way he treated his deaf daughter in Chapter 23 of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" tell us about him?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 14, 2008 at 3:10 PM (Answer #1)

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Jim's story about the way he treated his deaf daughter illustrates his deep and abiding love for his family, and sense of decency and compassion that causes him to still berate himself for misperceiving her condition.

Jim is "low and homesick" thinking about his wife and children, and recalls the time when he slapped his daughter Elizabeth for not responding to his command to "shet de do'", not realizing she was deaf.  He still harbors remorse for treating her "so ornery", and prays, "the Lord God Amighty fogive po' ole Jim, kaze he never gwyne to fogive hisself as lon'g he live".

Slave owners of the times justified their treatment of the Negro by rationalizing that slaves did not have the same feelings as white people.  When Huck hears Jim's story, he is amazed that Jim "cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n...it don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so".  Jim's story about his daughter shows that the slaves did indeed have the same ties of love and feeling towards their families, and that when they hurt or were separated from their loved ones, they suffered terribly.  Jim's compassionate and caring nature also stands in stark contrast to that of the king and the duke.  Even though they were white, those two scoundrels had no thought for others beyond what they could get from them, and spent their days lying and cheating, thinking only about themselves (Chapter 23). 

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swami | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 20, 2009 at 6:37 PM (Answer #2)

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Jim's remorse, shown in chapter 23 denotes how he becomes sort of a surrogate father to replace Pap in a way, and expresses his sorrow that he felt in regards to the fact that he was insensitive to his daughter's condition. The fact that he opens up to Huckleberry and guides him along his journey to help Jim to the free states shows that he cared for Huck as he would have his own child. This also shows Mark Twain's elevation of Jim, as he had personal experience with the compassion and lovingness expressed by his slaves as a child growing up in the antebellum south. As well as serving to exemplify Jim's compassion and humanity, it is also a social commentary on Southern White society and their beliefs, because it disproves misconceptions held by whites at this time that pertained to the inhumanity of slaves and the incapability of slaves to love.

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swami | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 20, 2009 at 6:38 PM (Answer #3)

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Jim's remorse, shown in chapter 23 denotes how he becomes sort of a surrogate father to replace Pap in a way, and expresses his sorrow that he felt in regards to the fact that he was insensitive to his daughter's condition. The fact that he opens up to Huckleberry and guides him along his journey to help Jim to the free states shows that he cared for Huck as he would have his own child. This also shows Mark Twain's elevation of Jim, as he had personal experience with the compassion and lovingness expressed by his slaves as a child growing up in the antebellum south. As well as serving to exemplify Jim's compassion and humanity, it is also a social commentary on Southern White society and their beliefs, because it disproves misconceptions held by whites at this time that pertained to the inhumanity of slaves and the incapability of slaves to love. Woot studying paid off...

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