Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Solomon Criticism

Power failure, sorry I couldn't get to posting this earlier.

Karen Sloan's Solomon criticism brought up an interesting point: the Solomon parable was not merely a humorous scene, but an allegorical passage made to represent the conflicts and desires in an antebellum society told from a postbellum point of view. Sloan states that "white opression, not Jim's foolishnes, prevents the runaway slave from imagining that anything approximating justice might prevail in a court of law (Sloan 3). This accounts for Jim's arguement that the Solomon story is one of idiocy and that the king was not insightful or just. It through this general point of view from Jim and through Huck's conviction that Jim is missing the point of the story that Twain is able to illustrate his real meaning behind this section of the story. I believe that Solomon represents American society, with the real biological mother representing the white population and the fake mother illustrating the downtrodden black population of the country. The baby is made to represent the values of democracy and social freedom. But, like Rosey has mentioned, Twain leaves out the part where the real mother saves the infant's life, bringing this question to light: does Twain mean to have either of the mothers represent anything? Since he leaves them out of the parable, it's hard to decide whether either of the mothers have a significance in Twain's representation of postbellum society through the parable. While Colleen Froehlich states that the baby is property and the "fake" mother is white society, I think the opposite. Like I stated before, I think the real mother is white society and the fake mother is represented by black society. The baby (democratic values and social freedom) is caught in a dispute between two racial groups, one of which has the upper hand. Both want it equally, but one is more ruthless in trying to obtain it. The fake mother (black society) has no care of conscience for what may befall the baby (freedom) as long as it becomes theirs. The real mother treasures it for the way it is, thus keeping posession of it and leaving the baby unharmed, (or leaving the democratic values and social freedom unchanged.) Sloan states that "Neither Jim nor Huck really understands the King Solomon passage, which seems to be Twain's intention beacuse the episode is not a defining moment for either character" (Sloan 4). I agree with this statement, and I view this passage as more of a defining moment for the reader. This is the point in the novel where Twain makes most subtle but powerful arguements, that social freedom didn't and doesn't belong to the blacks, just as the baby didn't and will not belong to the fake mother. By having the characters disagree with this verdict by Solomon, in essence, he has them disagree with the functions of society and the views upon blacks. My view upon this passage has changed considerably, after reading the criticism and reading other classmate's posts, and to make my final point- I must agree with Alex Paul in saying that this passage was Twain's way of making his point known to his current society. The passage was written humoriously but it illustrated a very deep psychological and social illue in the current time frame, which Jim points out, but fails to recognize in the right sense: "En mine you, de real pint is down furder- it's down deeper" (Twain 81). Jim clearly points out Twain's underlying view that the scene is made to illustrate a much larger issue. I agree with Sloan that Twain meant to point out the flaws in postbellum society and the issues with social freedom.

No comments: