Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

At the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Twain threatens to shoot anyone looking for a moral in his book. He would probably say much the same about a search for themes and meanings in “Jim Baker’s Bluejay Yarn.” Unlike the animal fables of Aesop, Jean de La Fontaine, or Joel Chandler Harris, Twain’s animal tales are not classic fables meant to illustrate some moral point. Though the bluejays are described in very human terms, and though their behavior parallels that of human beings, one should not impose some heavy moral implication on the story. For Twain, this type of narrative was an art form more closely related to performance than to serious literature. Its humor is its point, and that humor lies more in the style of telling the tale than in the material itself.