What are the changes in Huck’s attitude toward Jim in Chapter XXXI of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter XXXI, Huck finds that the social and religious codes he has been taught cannot be reconciled with with the realization that Jim is a good, kind person, and that there is no way to justify the fact that he must be a slave.

Jim has been caught as a runaway and sent to the Phelp's place to be turned in for a reward.  Huck wrestles with the idea that he should write Miss Watson, Jim's rightful "owner", and tell her where he is so she can send for him.  This is a hard decision for Huck, because if he does contact Miss Watson, he will have to admit that he helped Jim escape, thus stealing her "property".  On the one hand, Huck's conscience tells him that turning himself and Jim in is the right and moral thing to do, but on the other hand, something within him tells him that there is something amiss with this thinking.  Huck thinks of Jim,

"we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing...him standing my watch on top of his'n...so I could go on sleeping...how glad he (is) when I come back out of the fog...(he) would always call me honey...and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always (is)".

Because of their time on the river, Huck sees Jim as a wonderful human being, and when he looks at him like that, the rules of ownership and slavery do not make sense.  With his newfound attitude towards Jim, Huck must make the decision to deny what he has been taught, and follow a higher truth he feels in his heart.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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