A Spurious Stereotype
???Asians can??™t see. All Mexicans are illegal immigrants. African Americans are gangsters.??? It??™s very sad to hear, but stereotypes exist everywhere in our society. From the beginning of time, judgments about different groups of people have been made. In Mark Twain??™s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, stereotypes dress the book from cover to cover. The biggest one displayed is the character of Jim, a run-away slave. By examining Jim??™s character in detail, it??™s obvious that he does not fit the stereotype of a black man in the 1840??™s. Judging by his courageous attitude, his unselfishness, and his loyalty, there is no doubt that Jim is different.
There are many points in the novel where Jim is seen as being very courageous. At the end of the novel, Jim does something that wound end up in him loosing his freedom. ??? No, sah- I doan??™ budge a step out ???n dis place ???dout a doctor; not if it??™s forty year!??? (276). This quote by Jim shows how courageous and brave he is. Because Jim did not want to leave Tom Sawyer until professional help was brought, he decides to stay knowing very well that once the doctor comes, he will most likely be re-captured. Some think that a stereotypical Black man during the time would lack courage, but this event proves that Jim does not fit the mold.
Another aspect of a stereotypical Black man in the 1840??™s was being selfish. Through out their adventure, Jim acts as a fatherly figure towards Huck meaning that he takes on hardships in order to benefit Huck; this is definitely considered to be unselfish. ???I had the middle, watch, you know, but I was pretty sleepy by that time, so Jim said he would stand the first half of it for me; he was always mighty good that way, Jim was,???(128). By giving up his sleep for Huck, Jim shows unselfish characteristics. If Jim was portrayed as being greedy and only caring about himself, the stereotype would have been true, but by allowing Huck to sleep in, Jim is able to disprove another part of the stereotype.
Loyalty was not considered to be trait of enslaved Black men; they were thought of as thieves and were always blamed for trying to run away. How ever, in Jim??™s case, it??™s obvious that he is extremely loyal. As Jim and Huck sailed down the Mississippi, Huck decided one day to play a mean joke on Jim. ??? En all you wuz thinkin??™ ???bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie,???(171). At this point, after being humiliated, Jim could have easily decided to leave Huck and go out on his own, but he decided against it. Though he was furious at Huck, Jim soon forgave Huck and kept his loyalty. Some may say that Jim lacks loyalty because he ran away from Miss Watson but the fact that that he remains loyal to Huck, who time after time, puts him in risk of being captured shows that he was true in his intentions of being loyal to Huck.
Through evidence, it??™s obvious that the character of Jim in Twain??™s novel is not a stereotypical Black man of the 1840??™s. Jim is courageous, unselfish, and loyal; all traits not included in the stereotype. These negative judgments were used to keep Blacks enslaved, but it was soon learned that this stereotype, in general, was false. Though it is known that stereotypes can hurt and trouble people, they still float around today. Perhaps one day, these terrible comments will be eliminated, once and for all.
A Spurious Stereotype