In "Huckleberry Finn", why did Twain use a 13-year-old boy as a good friend to Jim, who is an adult black runaway slave, to run away with?is there a symbolic correlation to these...

In "Huckleberry Finn", why did Twain use a 13-year-old boy as a good friend to Jim, who is an adult black runaway slave, to run away with?

is there a symbolic correlation to these characters?

Asked on by tiff2796

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engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

Youth is used by many authors to represent the idea of naivete or innocence. In the case of Huck, his youth is an asset because he views Jim as more of a human than his adult peers, who see only a black slave. Moreover, because Jim is considered to be of a "lower" social status, Huck feels more comfortable speaking frankly with him than with, say, the Widow Douglas, whose social station is far above his. After all, Huck's background is not one of white-collar repute.

Adolescence is also a time of great transition physically, mentally, and emotionally. The transition represented by Huck's age can be associated with the cultural and historical transition of this setting's time period. Twain also seems to be pointing out the similitude of Huck and Jim despite their obvious racial differences throughout this novel.  

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Huck, like Jim is an outcast. As the son of the town drunk, he also needs a father-figure. His youth means that, although he accepts the idea of slavery, he is young enough to be able to question its values. In addition, Huck is white and so the juxtaposition of the white and black values will be easy to highlight. Finally, a partnership between a white and black male was something unheard during the time the novel was set. So, by positioning the two outcasts as friends and showing the comparative values of each character, Twain is able to make a clear statement about society. Jim, even though his is black, becomes a better role model for Huck that his own drunken, abusive white father. Huck also has the ability to change because of his age and Twain is able to communicate his message about racial equality without the interference of an adult who might be stuck with values he will not
consider changing.

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