In Chapter 14 what is Jim's main argument against people speaking different languages and why is this ironic?

1 Answer

gpane's profile pic

gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

In this chapter, Jim reacts to Huck's revelation that he and Huck, being English speakers, wouldn't be able to understand a Frenchman. Huck attempts to explain the difference by saying that a cow or a cat wouldn't be able to understand humans either, as they are animals, nor would they be able to understand each other, as they are different kinds of animals. Jim retorts that Frenchmen are still men, and therefore they should talk like men. Jim's main argument, then, is that humans are all the same species, so they should all talk the same language and be able to understand each other. This exchange is amusing, but it carries a deeper irony, particularly in view of the way that society is generally portrayed in this novel. Society divides human beings according to race, background and creed, and often acts as if all human beings were not of the same species. The most glaring example of this in the novel is racism. The dominant white society in this novel often behaves towards blacks as though they were not human at all.