Thursday, September 29, 2011

Huck Finn Chap 21-37

     The first few chapters of this section are pretty significant and have many events worth noting.  In chapter 21, Sherburn confronts Boggs and ends up killing him for no apparent reason other than he was being a nuisance.  In chapter 22, Sherburn makes a huge speech discussing the idea of the mob mentality which was very interesting to me and reminded me very much of Hawthorne's writing we read earlier in the semester.  My favorite quote from the speech is "The pitifulest thing out is a mob... but a mob without any man at the head of it, is beneath pitifulness."  Sherburn claims to know all about people and human nature and has complete confidence that he will be ok and the mob will not take his life.
     Another interesting scene was in chapter 22 when Huck is telling us about the circus scene and how the ring-master was fooled by his own company.  I think Twain was trying to paint the reader a picture of how human nature has no problem deceiving others to simply get a laugh.  I think Twain was trying to uncover a characteristic of human nature that people don't often talk about and that is the secret desire to see other humans deceived and fooled.  In chapter twenty three, it is obvious that Huck's view of what makes a human is changing through his journey with Jim- "and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n.  It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so."  This statement is just yet another example of how society made even little children believe that black slaves were not humans at all.  Through these lies, America made it easier to mistreat slaves through dehumanizing them.
     In chapter 24, the king and the duke begin their lies and deceiving in order to rob a family of their inheritance.  Even Huck is disgusted by this act which is obvious when he says, "It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race."  Here, Huck realizes that humans are capable of just about anything.  Through the king and the duke, Huck learns to never underestimate what people are capable of.
     I thought the scene when Huck is talking to the Hare-lip girl in chapter 26 about slaves in England and in America was ironic.  She asks Huck how they treat slaves in England and Huck comments that, "A servant ain't nobody there.  They treat them worse than dogs."  I was reminded through this statement that slaveowners truly believed that they were doing slaves a favor by giving them the bare minimum and working them into the ground.  Their lies are further explained later in the chapter when Mary Jane tells the Hare-lip girl, "The thing is for you to treat him kind, and not be saying things to make him remember he ain't in his own country and amongst his own folks."  The slave-owners knew that there were certain ways to lie and deceive the slaves themselves and also to deceive the society around them.  Around the same portion of the chapter, it becomes apparent that Huck indeed does have a conscience and knows what is right and wrong for himself when he decides to steal the money away from the master deceivers (the king and the duke).  Even though Huck is a young boy, he has no problem deciding for himself what is right or wrong and following through at all costs.
     In chapter 27, Huck witnesses the separation and selling of slaves which reminded me of Stowe's narrating of a slave trade.  Huck claims it was  a horrible sight to see and it is something he will never forget.  Huck sees here once again, that slaves are indeed people too and have feelings and family.  This reinforces Huck's decision to expose the king and the duke and in chapter 28, Huck follows through on his decision and tells Mary Jane the truth and helps her devise a plan. 
     In chapter 29, the duke and the king are discovered for who they really are and the town once again adopts a mob mentality in order to get rid of them.  This entire time, Jim and Huck are keeping from each other their true convictions about the men.  They don't want to be around them anymore, but they don't know how to go about getting rid of them.  In chapter 31 however, they both get pretty scared due to the king and the duke's changed attitude's and they decide that they will not get involved with anything else they are doing once and for all.  In chapter 31, Jim also disappears because he is captured as a runaway.  Huck once again struggles within himself about what the right course of action is.  He isn't sure whether he should cooperate and tell Mrs. Watson that her slave has been found or if he should help Jim escape.  He wants to do the "right" thing, but knows deep down inside that it is not the right thing.  Huck can't even find anything against Jim!  He has been nothing but good to him throughout their entire journey.
     In chapter 32, Huck sets out to find Jim at the Phelps's farm.  When he arrives, the family thinks he is Tom which Huck naturally plays along with.  This is when Tom really becomes a presence in the story.  In chapter 33, the town finally gets organized enough to tar and feather the duke and the king.  Even though Huck wanted to get rid of them, he realizes the seriousness of what they have done to other human beings.  He says, "It was a dreadful thing to see.  Human beings can be awful cruel to one another."  Huck is definitely not too young to understand the society that is taking place around him and disagree with it.
     In chapter 34, Huck and Tom begin to devise their plan to set Jim free.  It is obvious right off that Tom is in charge of this plan because Huck doesn't even put much effort into his plan.  He knows that everything Tom does has to be romantic.  It is also obvious that Tom doesn't even view Jim as a human being when he says to Jim, "If I was to catch a n- that was ungrateful enough to run away, I wouldn't give him up, I'd hang him."  He is only participating because it is another adventure for him.
     In chapter 35, the differences in Huck and Tom become even more apparent when discussing education.  Tom says to Huck, "Why hain't you ever read any books at all?"  Tom cannot understand why Huck is so simple-minded and to the point.  Tom enjoys the adventure and the details of every situation because of all the books that he has read.  Because of this inconsistency, they cannot communicate effectively or understand where the other one is coming from.  Huck puts it the best when he says in chapter 36, "He was always just that particular.  Full of principle."  Poor Jim in the situation, "...couldn't see no sense in the most of it, but he allowed we was white folks and knowed better than him."  This part of the book really frustrated me because Tom is obviously wasting time, and only views Jim and his situation as something entertaining and fun for him.  He doesn't appreciate his situation or even see Jim as a real person.

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