Huckleberry and Literacy

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Date Submitted: 01/04/2016 07:22 AM

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Jim and Huckleberry Finn’s growth throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn set the stage for Daniel Hoffman’s interpretation in “From Black Magic-and White-in Huckleberry Finn.” Hoffman exhibits that through Jim’s relationship with Huckleberry, the river’s freedom and “in his supernatural power as interpreter of the oracles of nature” (110) Jim steps boldly towards manhood.

Jim’s evolution is a result of Twain’s “spiritual maturity.” Mark Twain falsely characterizes superstition as an African faith but, Daniel Hoffman explains that most folk lore in Huckleberry derives from European heritage. Tying your hair into knots with thread to defend against witches who ride their prey is even referenced in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Hoffman then goes on to ask and answer “Why, then does Mark Twain make such a point of having only Negroes, children and riffraff as the bearers of folk superstitions in the recreated world of his youth?” (109) He clarifies that during the time Huck Finn was composed, Twain was living far from his childhood home. His memory of Uncle Dan’l, who Mark Twain divulges in his autobiography, was the origin of Jim, and his stories are skewed by Twain’s memory. Hoffman also believes that Twain infuses his ideas on “superstition: slaves: boyhood freedom” (109) It Is grouped together due to his experiences of his youth. “The minstrel stereotype, as we have scene, was the only possible starting point for a white author attempting to deal with a Negro character a century ago,” (110) is another of Hoffman’s takes on Mr. Twain’s situation.

Daniel Hoffman speculates that Mark Twain intertwines superstition and freedom. Our first look at Huck Finn is in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when Tom sees him swinging around a dead cat. Huck and his dead cat symbolize freedom to “civilized” Tom. Freedom from manacles of society may seem ideal to Tom but, they hold a certain danger to Huck. Daniel believes the death hiding in the natural world scares...