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One of the conflicts I ran across in this book is the turmoil that Jim's escape from slavery caused for Huck. In Chapter 16, the two boys are nearing the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers, and below that Jim would be in slave-free country. He got very excited and talked about going back and buying his wife and children, and if their masters wouldn't sell them he would steal them. All this talk made Huck very uneasy, so much so that he was miserable. I quote from the book:
I tried to make out to myself that I warn't to blame, because I didn't run Jim off from his rightful owner; but it warn't no use, conscience up and says, every time , "But you knowed he was running for his freedom, and you could a paddled ashore and told somebody."
He also felt that he'd wronged Jim's owner, Miss Watson, by not helping her get her slave back. She'd always been good to him and he felt mean and low, like he was wronging her. Finally, his emotions got so high that he decided to go to shore and turn Jim in. As he was paddling away, Jim commends him for being a true friend.
"Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on'y white genlman dat ever kep' his promise to ole Jim."
Just then two men came along in a boat looking for escaped slaves. Huck finds himself telling a lie to protect Jim, but then feels awful about it, knowing he did something wrong.
Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on--s'pose you'd a done right and give Jim up; would you feel better than what you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad--I'd feel just the same way I do now.
So, either way he looked at it, Huck was doing the wrong thing. It was against the law to help an escaped slave get to freedom, but it's also wrong to betray a friend. In the end, Huck decided it was more honorable to protect and be true to Jim than it would have been to turn him in.
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