How would you compare and contrast Jim and Pap in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

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sharrons's profile pic

sharrons | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In the novel, Huckleberry Finn, at first glance there seems to be fewer similarities between Pap and Jim, but if we closer closer, there are actually some striking similarities.  The similarities go far beyond the fact that both are male.  One of the most striking similarities is that both Jim and Pap are outcasts.  Pap is an outcast because of his lack of education, his poverty, and his alcoholism.  Jim is an outcast because his is a black man, a slave.  Also, just like Pap, Jim also has a lack of education.

Also, both men serve as role models in Hucks life.  Pap is a role model of what may happen to Huck if he does not "give in to the more 'civilized' forces or undertake his "journey".  Jim is a role model becauses he shows stength and courage while living in a society that oppresses him.

engtchr5's profile pic

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

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Let's start with an obvious similarity for comparison: both are men. Beyond that fact, the contrasts outnumber any comparisons that might be made. For instance, while Jim is kind, compassionate, and able-minded, Pap is a lousy drunk who abuses Huck when he grows intoxicated. And while both men could be considered "father figures" for Huck, Jim is actually the one who shows the boy what true, honorable manhood looks like. Pap, on the other hand, gives Huck a dose of reality -- he proves that not all men are industrious, well-meaning people like Jim.

A more obvious physical contrast between the two characters is that of race: Pap is caucasian, while Jim is an African-American. Ironically, in a time that looked down upon "negroes" as inferior and ignorant, Jim proves to be both intelligent and strong.

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