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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

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Compare and contrast Jim and Pap in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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Jim and Pap are very much alike, but Jim is a good person, while Pap is not. In their similarities they are both victims of the society that they live in.

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The similarities of Pap Finn and Jim have to do with their status in society; though Pap is not African American, he is mostly rejected by mainstream society because of his reprehensible behavior. He is a drinker who does not hold down a job. He is psychologically and physically abusive...

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toward his son and is often absent from his life. He resists the efforts of those who reach out to help him. He does nothing to improve his life.

Jim also suffers from low social status, but in his case, it is because he is an African American slave. He is rejected by mainstream society because it practices slaveholding, and because he is a slave, his essential humanity is not generally recognized. Instead of being viewed as a man, he is viewed as a commodity.

The differences in Pap and Jim are found in their respective approaches to living their lives. Though Jim is highly intelligent, he understands that he must keep that quality hidden from his captors. He stays under the radar, carefully saving money and planning for the future as he plots his escape and reunion with his wife and children. Jim understands that Huck offers him cover, and he comes to value their friendship, becoming a father figure to Huck in many ways and offering moral instruction.

Pap Finn is incapable of planning for the future as he stumbles from one drunken escapade to the next. He is not only uneducated; he is ignorant and incapable of recognizing it as he rages about the ignorance and inferiority of others. Instead of working to provide a life and future with his son, he abandons him, preferring the sordid existence that leads to his inevitable demise.

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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.

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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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Compare and contrast Jim and Pap's respective influence on Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

The difference in influence that these two figures have on Huck is most clearly demonstrated in the pivotal decisions they lead Huck to make.

Jim inspires Huck to loyalty, fealty and compassion. Pap Finn leads Huck to escape and deception.

In their characters, the two men present contrasting sets of traits. Jim is compassionate and humble. He tells Huck a story about how he learned humility from his deaf daughter when she was very young. He looks out for Huck and does not mention much of the help he offers to Huck. He acts generously. Huck recalls this behavior when he decides to help Jim escape from captivity (and these are all qualities that qualify as lessons for Huck).

Pap Finn is indignant. He is ruthless and proud, though he is also ashamed of himself. He is blameless in his own mind, yet recognizes the fact that he has squandered all of his cultural advantages in being a white male in pre-Civil War Missouri. The knee-jerk racism and generally defensive attitude toward all that he sees as superior to him combine to make Pap a highly judgemental person. 

This particular quality stands in direct contrast to the lessons that Jim teaches Huck; lessons of compassion, patience and empathy.

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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, how would you compare and contrast Pap and Jim?

Both Jim and Pap are older men who play, in one way or another, a father role for the young Huck.  They are both outcasts from their society, and with little or no means of their own.  However, their differences are more stark.  First of all, Pap is a no-good drunk who doesn't care a wit what Huck thinks or feels, as long as it isn't making him look bad.  Jim, on the other hand, cares about Huck's opinion of him, considers him a friend, treats him nicely, respects his opinion, and looks up to him instead of down on him.

Jim is more of a friend figure for Huck than a father figure.  He supports and encourages Huck, and helps to keep him safe.  His father just caused him harm and damage, and hurt Huck in numerous ways.

It is also an interesting exercise to look at their similarities and differences from Huck's perspective. He looks down on both of these characters--Pap because he's lazy and drunken, and Jim because he's a slave.  He treats both of them with a bit of disdain at times, and pulls tricks and stunts on them.  However, by the end of the novel Huck feels that Jim is his equal, and a good friend to boot, whereas he never felt that way about his father.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

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