Society is like the bully in middle school. It is harsh, it takes money, and it tries to conform people. In life, everyone needs some type of protector. A protector can be a friend, a parent, an uncle, a religious figure, or even a teacher. A protector looks out for others and leads people in the right direction. In Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Jim is the protector of Huck. The lessons that Huck learns through his journey shows the reader that not all black people are what society claims they are. Along Huck’s adventure, Jim lends his guidance and support to Huck, through his actions and advice, which helps mature Huck as an individual.
Jim’s actions, specifically his decision to share his family life with Huck, allow Huck to mature. Pap, Huck’s father, never was quite a father figure to Huck. He frequently beats Huck and doesn’t respect the fact that Huck is educated. When Huck runs away from home and meets Jim, it is the first time in his life where he has someone actually care about him. Although the two are not friends before they flee, they form a special bond throughout their adventures and Jim becomes a fatherly figure to Huck. He is the father that Huck never had. It doesn’t take long for Jim to make an impact on Huck. Shortly into their journey, Huck and Jim find a washed out house that has floated down the river past the island. When the two enter, they find the body of a man. Jim goes up to the man who has been shot in the back and says to Huck, “It’s a deadman.Yes,indeedy; naked,too. He’s been shot in de back.
I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face- it’s too gashly.( Twain 38)” Towards the end of the novel, the reader finds out that the dead man inside the house was in fact Huck’s dad. Jim recognized Pap in the house and he made sure that Huck didn’t see the naked body of his dead father. Even though Huck never had a good relationship with Pap, the sight of his fathers dead body with a bullet hole in his back is one that he does not want to see, especially since he is still a young kid. Jim’s decision was crucial in the development of Huck in the novel. Later on their journey while on the raft Jim mentions his family and how he was separated from them. He says that the first thing he will do when he gets freedom is save up enough money to buy his wife and children back from their owners. He doesn’t think twice before starting the topic and his words catch Huck by surprise. Huck’s conscience begins to stir, trying to lead him in the right direction.
He starts to have a conversation with his own conscience and says, “Let up on me-it ain’t too late, yet-I’ll paddle ashore at the first light and tell”(Twain 67). He contemplates whether to reveal Jims true identity or not and ultimately decided to let Jim have his freedom. The impact of this decision is seen where Jim says, “Huck; you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de only fren’ ole Jim’s got now” (Twain 67). He goes on to say, “Dah you goes, de ole tru Huck; de on’y white gentleman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim” (Twain 67). Jim makes it clear that Huck is the first white man to ever treat him with respect. Huck knows the trust that Jim instills in him right when Jim starts the conversation. Huck’s decision to not tell about Jim, shows that going against the flow of things is not a bad thing and that a person can think for himself or herself. There is no need for anyone or anything to make choices for someone else. Jim’s response to Huck’s actions solidifies the strength of their relationship and Huck ultimately wins the battle between what he knows is right and what society thinks is right.
Jim’s guidance and support along the journey creates a friendship that appears almost unbreakable. Throughout the entire novel, Huck has an internal struggle deciding whether to follow the code of society and turn Jim in or to follow what he knows is right and to let Jim be a free man. He decides to write a letter that roots from his childhood teachings and societies belief that blacks are not equal to whites. “The more I studied about this, the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling” (Twain 160).. He writes the letter and to his surprise he feels relieved. Huck says, “I felt good and all washed and clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now” (Twain 161). Although Huck feels great right after he finishes the letter, he begins to think about what he is about to do.
As he sits with the letter, he thinks about all of the experiences and memories that he and Jim have had together. He thinks of all the support, knowledge, and lessons that Jim has taught him. He thinks of all the laughs they shared, the talks they had, and the songs they sung. He thinks of all the positives of their relationship, but he cannot think of any negatives about Jim. He realizes that he has the power to change a life and has the ability make a difference .The reader knows that Jim has succeeded in his goal to make Huck anti-racist when Huck tears up the letter that he has written to Miss Watson. Right before he tears it up he says, “All right then, Ill go to hell.(Twain 162)” This is the one of the first scenes where the reader see’s Huck make a conscience decision by himself. He weighs the positives and negatives and ultimately chooses what he believes is morally correct. Huck would rather go to hell doing what he knows is right, than to conform to society and hurt the ones that mean the most to him. Huck’s ability to make a conscience decision is a sign of majority and he reached this level of majority through the guidance of his dear friend Jim.
Jim is a natural father like figure throughout the whole story. Not only to Huck along their journey but to Tom at the end of the story. Jim’s sacrifice at the end of the novel is one of the bravest sacrifices made throughout the book. After Tom gets shot in the leg, Jim displays concern for the him. He says, “No, sah-I doan’ budge a step out’n dis place ‘dout a doctor; not if it’s forty year!”(Twain 207) Despite all of the racism and harsh tricks that Tom has played on Jim, Jim risks his life to save his “friend”. Not knowing that he is truly free, Jim risks his own freedom to save Tom’s life. This decision has a huge impact on Huck. When Jim sacrifices himself knowing the extent of the situation, Huck makes a huge step in his character development.
He learns that all men, including blacks, are equal. Throughout the novel Huck struggles with this concept. This is the first time where Huck see’s Jim as an equal human being rather than just a “ni****”. Huck thinks to himself, “I knowed he was white inside”(Twain 207). This quote shows the progress that Huck has made. He has matured to someone who can think on their own and who can see the flaws in society. By thinking this, it is clear to the reader that he views whites and blacks as equal. Jim risked his freedom to save an immature, racist white boy who had treated him, not as an equal, but as an inferior, unequal black person, and that is the ultimate sacrifice that teaches Huck a valuable life lesson.
Along Huck’s adventure, Jim lends his guidance and support to Huck, through his actions and advice, which helps mature Huck as an individual. Guidance is a key to success in life. One must have someone or something to show them the ropes of the world. In the case of Huckleberry Finn, shows Huck right from wrong. Each adventure contains some type of life lesson. From the first time that Jim and Huck meet up with each other, to the time where Huck writes the letter about Jim, and to the end of the novel where Tom is racist towards Jim, Jim is always there for Huck. He is Huck’s protector.