Throughout the book, describe how slaves had been treated? What does Huck learn?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the book, slaves are treated poorly.  They are property...not many white people in the south treated them as much more than something to be owned.  Even at Buck Grangerford's house, where everyone in the home (including visitors like Huck) are assigned a slave to do his or her bidding, the slaves are invisible.  They are treated poorly or well, but expected to almost read the mind of the person to whom he/she serves.   However, Buck's family treats all Sheperdsons (with whom they are feuding) with absolute disregard and cruelty--they attempt to murder them at any given point of the day.  the experience with the Grangerfords and Buck's death teaches Huck a valuable lesson--human life is sacred and should be cherished.

Being with Jim, Huck learns that black people are no different than white people.  Jim thinks about his family, misses his children, feels fear and friendship, loves Huck as if he were a member of his own family, and lives for being free in order to work and buy the freedom of this wife and children.  These goals prove to Huck that Jim's life is sacred and something to be cherished even if is he is black.  This is why Huck chooses to ignore his duty to report Jim's whereabouts to the Widow Douglas and to "go to Hell" instead of turn Jim in to authorities.  Huck has decided to sacrifice his own soul to give his friend, Jim, a chance at a normal life.

Read the study guide:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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