Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Twain's Adventures

First off - I didn't Mrs. Gerber's instructions until now; I thought the post would be like the others, when we could respond until 6 a.m. the next morning. I didn't get home until 9:45, so I'm sorry!

Karen Sloan's criticism of the anti-racist nature of Huck Finn as it is exemplified in the King Sollermun scene opened my eyes to a fresh view on the underlying themes of the novel. While I agree with many of my classmates on the specific role each King Sollermun character plays in the allegorical scene, I think this passage is intended more as a catalyst for Twain's personal beliefs about slavery and racism. Many of you stated that the King represented the government; the baby, slavery or rights; the mothers, whites and blacks. However, what I found to be a more profound interpretation of this scene was Sloan's statement, "Twain's parable represents the immeasurably more complex moral dilemma that arises when the civil laws of a society and the moral code of a substantial number of its citizens contradict one another," (Sloan 4). This line demonstrates what I believe to be Sloan's most interesting idea, that the government and the people are often at odds with other. In the parable, King S. attempts to commit a horrible act, but the mother's moral judgment overrides his decision. However, in Twain's postbellum society, the opposite is true - the government gives the blacks equality, but the people do not wish to comply with new, anti-racist laws.

What I believe to be a profound part of Jim's understanding of the King Sollermun parable is the line, "I's Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill's de chile," (Twain 77). A seemingly insignificant quote, this sentence meant far more to me than just a setup of Jim's reenactment of the fable. Jim chooses himself to be Sollermun because he wants to control the equality he so desperately seeks. Additionally, he wanted the dollar bill to represent the child because, as Sloan puts it, Jim was, "trapped in a system whose civil and moral codes fail to distinguish between a human life and a piece of property," (Sloan 3). Twain's moral purpose of this scene is to decry the notion that a child would be under the same B.C. laws that dictate property disputes. I agree with Evan's notions that Jim cannot even conceive of a fair federal government, and that he sees King S. as an extension of the injustices he has endured as a slave.

Twain's motive for writing Huck Finn is to show equality between a black and a white, during a time in which racism was rampant. He does this especially during the King Sollermun scene because he inserts his own view on inequality into the book. By showing the reader the famed parable through Jim's eyes, he makes his point that equality between races can only be achieved if it is full and complete - half justice is seldom better that no justice at all.

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