What Is Jim's Journey In Huckleberry Finn

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In James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the central characters go on journeys in a pursuit of self identity. Following a common theme of travel, Johnson’s ex-coloured man discovers what it is to live as a person of colour while Jim and “Huck” learn lessons about freedom and racial cohesion in their time spent together on the run. In their individual growth, characters learn to better relate and respond to the larger society of their times.
Hans Christian Anderson once said, “To travel is to live.” In travelling, characters are displaced from familiarity and forced to build on their own abilities for survival. In exploring and experiencing new places, characters mature
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They become travel companions after a series of events in which Huck is believed to be dead, and Jim, on the run. When he is first introduced, Jim is “Miss Watson’s big nigger” (Twain, 3), merely a servant Huck plays tricks on. As they progress on their travels, Huck not only refers to Jim by name, but became more of a companion rather than a servant. He is given a say in their plans, “[Huck] must go in the dark and look sharp” (Twain, 41) and Huck is receptive to his ideas and advice. Having been raised with the clear distinction of race and the idea that there should be no “free nigger[s]” (Twain, 21), Huck and Jim’s relationship shows a remarkable transformation from a servant-master relationship to one that is less prejudiced, travelling having given Huck the opportunity to see Jim as a person, rather than a servant, and Jim given the freedom of expression. Most significant would be Huck’s willingness to see their cooperative effort as “we” (Twain, 60). Twain distinguishes the characters in the way they speak, but the fact that Jim’s voice is not silenced, him relating his story about his riches, “[he’s] ben rich wunst, and gwyne to be rich agin” (Twain, 35), and even arguing with Huck, “You answer me dat!” (Twain, 34) These instances present the maturity that Huck has undergone over the time spent travelling with Jim, and Jim’s growing confidence in…show more content…
He eventually questions if he is merely a “privileged spectator” or a “coward” and “deserter” (Johnson, 99) for having chosen to live undisturbed as a white man. On the contrary, the master – slave relationship is never truly eradicated in Huckleberry Finn with the distinct differences between Huck and Jim, and yet Huck is seen to have matured from the days of “[letting]... go” (Twain, 8) of religious beliefs that he is unable to reconcile with having a certainty towards his choice of actions, knowing he “got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and [he] knowed it” (Twain, 161-162). In the growth in understanding, he has the confidence in himself to get over his indecision and make a choice that he is able to live with. While the ex-coloured man has the luxury of two worlds in which he can identify with, Huck learns to alter the expectations of the white worldview ingrained in him and overrides it with what he has discovered for himself. As such, while identities are interlinked with race, the lessons that the characters take away and apply to their lives are distinctive to their situations and thus creating very different understandings of themselves and the world around
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