For my blogs about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain I decided to break the book up into thirds and write a blog entry about each third. For my first entry I will discuss the first 15 chapters.
In the beginning of the novel we learn that Huckleberry Finn, the main character, has been in the custody of the Widow Douglass and her sister, Miss Watson. They have tried to “civilize” Huck, but have not had much luck. Huck’s father, Pap, is a homeless alcoholic who causes trouble for Huck, and eventually ends up kidnapping him because he wants the $6,000 Huck received at the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck escapes his father by faking his own murder. Huck decides that to run away from St. Petersburg and live on a raft in the Mississippi River. While on an island Huck runs into a run-away slave named Jim who used to belong to belong to Miss Watson. Jim joins Huck on his adventure and the two encounter many strange and interesting things as the travel down the River such as a floating house with a dead body in it, and a wrecked steam boat.
As I read these chapters and throughout the rest of the novel one major connection I made with this reading and many our other readings is the strong influence that the Fugitive Slave Act had on African Americans during this time. In these chapters we learn that Jim has run away because he does not want to be sold. He therefore must remain in hiding so he can not be captured and sent back to his owner. He is even uneasy about telling Huck, a fellow runaway, what he had done (pg. 66). He is completely reliant on Huck, and his word that he will not tell on him.
Another major thing I noticed about Jim and many of the slaves in this novel is how superstitious they are. Jim’s superstitious nature is sometimes so strong that he pulls Huck into his fears. The incident with the snake skin seems to haunt Huck for most of the story. I am curious to find out what Mark Twain was trying to show through these, often irrational, superstitions.