Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sloan Criticism

My original interpretation of the Solomon scene in Huck Finn is similar to Reena’s. As I said earlier in class, I saw the Solomon allegory as a potential reference to black rights. The ‘good’ mother represents black people, the ‘corrupt’ mother represents Southern white people, Solomon represents the government (or possibly God), and the baby represents justice and social rights. Just as the corrupt mother was willing to sacrifice the baby’s life, (racist) white people are willing to forcefully take the power in society from blacks. In the end, the blacks and non racists (the good mother) should be rewarded with the power (baby), but they are not. This may be why Jim dislikes Solomon and did not finish the story.

After reading Karen Sloan’s criticism, my interpretation has stayed similar to my original ideas, but has still been modified to become more plausible. Sloan writes that the original story is an allegory for, “the condition of the Israelites,” and the legend suggests that, “real justice can be served only when a judicial system is joined to a judicious social conscience” (2). The unfair conditions of the Israelites can be compared to that of the slaves because “real justice” has not been served due to government’s lack of “judicious social conscience.” Sloan also stresses Jim’s addition of a dollar bill, arguing that the bill implies, “the value of a human life in his political economy is reducible to dollars and cents” (3). I don’t think the characters of the Solomon story directly represent anything, but are instead used as a whole to convey Twain’s message. Solomon’s case only worked when there is, “a clear distinction between human beings and property,” and with, “an individual assumed to have a sound heart” (Sloan 4). Using the story of Solomon, Twain negatively comments on the way society portrays black men as dollar bills and how the civil laws and moral codes of America contradict one another.

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