In "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" what is Huck's response to Jim's plans to steal his own children?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 16, Jim gets so excited about finding Cairo, which leads to freedom, that he starts talking about all of his plans once he is a free man.  Amongst those plans it to save up enough money to buy his wife and children's freedom so that they can all be together again.  Huck's reaction is this:  "It most froze me to hear such talk...here was this nigger,...coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children-children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm...I was sorry to hear Jim say that, it was such a lowering of him."  So Huck is all in a righteous tizzy over the fact that Jim wants to "steal" his own children back, children that didn't belong to him, but to some white man.

This response is ironic because of course Jim's children belonged to him, and not to whoever "owned" them according to their society's laws.  But, Huck, being raised in a slave-holding state, thinks that the owners truly "own" them.  It is also ironic because in Huck's eyes, Jim was in the wrong, when in reality Jim was in the right and the slave owner and Huck were in the wrong.

Twain uses Huck's misguided indignation to point out the ridiculousness of the concept of "ownership" that came with slavery, and how some people actually thought like Huck did.  Huck is so obviously in the wrong, and Twain does it in a humorous way, but a way that definitely makes a point.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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