Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Literary Criticism

I thought that Sloan's analysis of the Solomon story to the book was very similar to my ideas. From class yesterday, my area thought that Solomon represented the government, and the two mothers represented slavery and freedom. Jim was the baby stuck in the middle of an ongoing issue in the government about slavery. This story stressed on how Solomon treated the child like property rather a human being, something that Jim can relate with, and not Huck. "De 'spute was 'bout a whole chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a 'spute'bout a whole chile wid a half a chile doan' know enough to come in out'n de rain."(Twain 78). Here, Twain directly criticizes the governement after the war, saying that the government can never please everyone, and that currently the white people are the ones to get there way, while the slaves who were guaranteed freedom, were actually left with nothing and still treated unfairly by all. The part I liked, at the end of the first paragraph, shows the recurring idea of halves throughout the chapter. I didn't catch this while I was reading and now I see this motif throughout the book. "Central to understanding the passage is the recurring motif of onconruous halves-half a story, half a child, half a dollar bill- all metaphors for the impossibility of parceling out justice and freedom."(Sloan 2). The idea that Twain, postbellum, is trying to display is that giving slaves freedom must ultimately mean giving them justice and vice versa, and also is worthless if split in half. He attacks the segregation that went on during the Reconstruction years after the war. Before the Civil War, the time period of the book, Jim was seen as a fraction of society as well. Every 3 slaves counted as 5 people to the government. This idea of halves and fractions, help to show Jim's feeling of inferiority and worthlessness to the reader, and somewhat to Huck. This story also proves Twain's view of America in his day. "Jim understands that "the real pint"-the one Twain wishes to make-"is down furder-it's down deeper...calls to mind the plight of millions of enslaved blacks and opens the door to speculation that Twain truncates the biblical story for a profoundly antiracist reason." (Sloan 3). Contrary to belief that Twain attacks and denounces African-Americans throughout the book, this story relates to the years before and after the Civil War and subtly shows Twain siding with the slaves and their point of view, being against the government. This story at that time period probably meant to show people that he was standing up for his beliefs and going against society's segregational ways, the way Huck eventually starts to do in the book.

1 comment:

Mrs. Gerber said...

Michele --

A good start. Can you add more evidence to support your assertions? At the start, you suggest that Sloan's read is similar to your own. Can you articulate your read/thesis more specifically?

Thanks. Enjoy your day!