Why is Jim so vehement in his dislike of King Solomon in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Through Jim's opinion on King Solomon, what statement is Twain taking concerning antebellum society’s...

Why is Jim so vehement in his dislike of King Solomon in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Through Jim's opinion on King Solomon, what statement is Twain taking concerning antebellum society’s common stereotype of the slave. In what style is the scene written?

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poetrymfa's profile pic

poetrymfa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Huck tells Jim the story of King Solomon's decision regarding the two women who both claimed to be the mother of the same child. In this story, Solomon suggests the child be hacked in half so the women can "share" the baby. The woman who comes forward and begs Solomon not to hurt the child is the child's real mother. While Huck tells this story to demonstrate Solomon's wisdom, Jim takes it a little too literally and demands to know, "What use is half a [child]?" Jim believes Solomon's approach was completely foolish and that he should have just asked around to see who the child's mother was.

This particular portrayal of Jim alludes to the Antebellum stereotype of black men as either "happy darkies" or "Sambos"—slaves who were content to accept the word of their "masters," who behaved faithfully, and who committed themselves to subservience. Although Jim doesn't necessarily completely escape this stereotype throughout the book, in this moment he is doing something rebellious: openly disagreeing with a white man. Thus, Twain was perhaps challenging the insulting characterization of black men as individuals without intellect. Although Jim may have missed the point of the story, his arguments are not unfounded.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Jim is vehement about King Solomon because he thinks that Solomon has made some bad decisions.  Specifically, he thinks having lots of wives would mean that there would be too much noise and commotion and he thinks Solomon should have asked around to find out who the baby belonged to rather than ordering it cut in half.

I think that the statement Twain is making is that slaves had more common sense than they were supposed to have.  I think that he is showing how Jim, though a slave, can think critically about a situation.  I think he is also showing that Jim is not someone who is just going to accept what the authorities tell him.  This is in contrast to the stereotype that said slaves were happy to be slaves and do as they are told.

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