dventures Huckleberry Huck Finn EssaysJim as Hero in The Adventures of Huck Finn

A hero is defined as a person noted for feats of courage or
nobility of purpose. The character of Jim in Huckleberry Finn by Mark
Twain certainly fits that description. He risked his life in order to free
himself from slavery, and in doing so, helps Huck to realize that he has
worth. Huck becomes aware of Jim’s sense of love and humanity, his basic
goodness, and his desire to help others. There are many illustrations of
this phenomenon in Huckleberry Finn.

The reader first becomes aware of Jim’s sense of love and humanity
when Jim discovers Pap’s corpse on the houseboat:

…But it didn’t budge. So I hollered again, and then Jim says: “De man
ain’t asleep — he’s dead. You hold still– I’ll go en see. “He went, and
bent down and looked, and says: “It’s a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too.
He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come in,
Huck, but doan’ look at his face — it’s too gashly.”

This is an example of how Jim is a humane and loving person because
he does not allow Huck to see his dead father’s face once he sees and
understands the position in wehich he is placed. Later, Huck wishes to
speak to Jim about the dead man, but Jim will not allow it since he does
not want to reveal the truth about Pap to Huck. This is a second and more
direct approach that is used in the story in order to show this same point.

Jim is also basically a good person. Although he is ignorant, he
knows that it is a good thing for him to show Huck that he has worth so
that Huck can think of him as an equal. This is a tough idea for Huck to
realize because at this point in time he still thinks of Jim in terms of
being a slave, and not on equal footing with him. This is shown by Jim’s
statement of his own self worth.

“Yes; en I’s rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I’s wuth eight
hund’d dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn’ want no mo’.”

This statement is one of the first that lead to the reversal of
Huck’s attitudes toward Jim while they navigate the river. Huck states
that:

“People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping
mum…”

Huck’s statement shows that he cares significantly more for Jim
than he had in the past. This statement also paves the way for the feeling
that Huck has for “going to hell” for Jim because Huck cares for Jim so
much. Huck also shows about how much he cares for Jim when he escapes from
the Wilks’ graveyard scene. Huck explained the matter in this way:

“Out with you, Jim, and set her loose! Glory be to goodness, we’re shut of
them!”

Jim lit out, and was a-coming for me with both arms spread, he was
so full of joy; but when I glimpsed him in the lightning my heart shot up
in my mouth and I went overboard backwards; for I forgot he was old King
Lear and a drownded A-rab all in one, and it most scared the livers and
lights out of me. But Jim fished me out, and was going to hug me and bless
me…

This is another example of how much Huck loves Jim because all that
Huck could think about was returning to Jim to continue their journey.
Huck’s colorful description of the incident only seems to compound the
validity of this statement.

The third charictaristic that Jim exemplifies is a desire to help
others. In Huckleberry Finn , Jim wishes to free himself from slavery. In
doing so he enlists the help of Huck Finn. As they travel down the river,
Jim sees that Huck will need some help understanding why he should be set
free. Jim’s objective is realized when he is sold back into slavery by the
two frauds, the King and the Duke. Once Jim is sold back into slavery, Huck
is left alone and begins to feel lonely without the presence of Jim. Huck
speaks of his being alone in this way:

I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time,
sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and
singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to
harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my
watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and
see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to
him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times…
I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s
got now…

“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell”

At this climactic point in the story, Huck not only sees that he
and Jim are on equal ground and that he will do anything, including freeing
Jim from slavery, which he accomplishes with the assistance of Tom Sawyer.

The character of Jim in Huckleberry Finn is a hero because his
sense of love and humanity, his basic goodness, and his desire to help
others help Huckleberry Finn to realize why he should help to free Jim from
slavery.