Jane Smiley's Analysis

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Jane Smiley argues that Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn suggests only “a recognition of the obvious -- that blacks, slave and free, are human” and therefore does not deserve to be shelved on the western canon nor taught in schools (Smiley). Contrary to Smiley’s statement, the story educates on many more morals and philosophies in addition to racism and depicts the protagonist Huck fighting against deeply rooted societal conventions at the time (and even in places today) that a black person amounts to less value than a white person. This novel deserves to be on the western canon as it is far more nuanced than Smiley suggests; Huck’s fighting societal prejudices, teaches people to defeat stereotypes and value people not…show more content…
Chp.31). As Huck and Jim navigate down the Mississippi River, sharing narrow escapes and miracles, their bond develops. Huck comes to love and respect Jim, but the notion of doing the “right” thing tells him to turn Jim in. From his bringing up, he believes he has a moral obligation to turn Jim in, because Jim is Miss Watson’s ‘property’. But, reminiscing of his Journey with Jim and “how good he always was”, Huck denies the moral code society placed upon him and decides he will do everything to go save Jim. Smiley says that throughout the entire story “Twain really saw Jim as no more than Huck’s sidekick”, as "Jim is never autonomous never has a vote, always finds his purposes subordinate to Huck's, and, like every good sidekick, he never minds” (Smiley). Yet, we see in Huck’s moral dilemma, how he understands how great and amazing of a person that Jim is when they were “floating along talking, and singing, and laughing”, that he finally defeats the concept of Jim being just a ‘sidekick’ or a slave (HF. Chp 31). Huck truly sees Jim as his equal when he commits his entirety to saving Jim, getting mad that to society, Jim amounted only to “forty dirty dollars” (HF. Chp 31). Although he considers turning Jim in and struggles against the constant thought because society would get angry “that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom” and he would be condemned “to everlasting fire” , we see a person able to defeat mainstream conventions and strive for what he as an individual believes stands as truly right (HF. Chp 31). Smiley claims that the story is only “lighting out for the territory" for racism, but without first convincing the majority of people to judge people by their value rather than what
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