To turn Jim in, or not to turn Jim in, that is the question that Huck is faced with in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Whether it is nobler to protect a friend or to give in to the demands of society by ending a friendship. This novel portrays a period in American history where most Southern whites considered blacks as a piece of property. Huck, a white Southern boy, and Jim, a run-away slave, had a friendship that was inappropriate in society. During their adventurous journey, Huck would have to confront the consequences of protecting a run-away slave, if he decided to give Jim protection.
Throughout this novel the relationship between Huck and Jim differs in and out of society because of Huck’s feelings towards Jim. These two adventurers had planned to leave the Mississippi and go North, but missed their chance. The river took them farther and farther South. If Jim was caught, he would be in big trouble. If Huck didn’t turn Jim in, he would also be in big trouble. Huck found himself battling with his conscience, when he realized how close Jim was to his freedom, “…I begun to get it through my head that he was most free—and who was to blame for it? Why, me.
I couldn’t get that out of my conscience, no how nor no way. ” (pg. 85) Turning Jim in would be difficult, since he was a benevolent and amiable man. It was not righteous that he should be hurt, but if Huck helped Jim run away, he would have to turn his back on his own people. He would be saying slavery, and everyone who believed in it, was wrong. Huck came to the decision to tell someone about Jim that will force him back into slavery. Soon enough they encountered two white men on a skiff. During this incident Huck perceived that his feelings to protect Jim were stronger than his feelings to turn him in.
He lied when the men asked if Jim was white or black. Each time they encountered other people who might turn Jim in, Huck was prepared to reveal another untrue story. Huck knew that Jim counted on him to protect him and not betray him, since they had a special friendship that most whites and blacks would never have, “…you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de only fren’ ole Jim’s got now. ” (pg. 87) When Huck and Jim are alone, Jim can’t help talking about what he is going to do once he becomes free and Huck couldn’t quite bare that kind of talk. It most froze me to hear such talk. He wouldn’t ever dared to talk such talk in his life before. ” (pg. 86)
But Huck continued to protect Jim in society, he was able to fool anyone in order to make sure Jim was safe. Outside of society Huck didn’t have to pretend anything. In society he had to fight back his guiltiness and hide Jim. The special friendship that Huck and Jim had together contrasted greatly from the conservative relationships between whites and blacks in the South.
Whites felt that slaves had no feelings whatsoever, but Huck knew that Jim had feelings just like everyone else. They gave concern for one another and in some ways Jim was like a father figure to Huck. As they spent more time with each other, their friendship grew stronger and stronger until Huck could sacrifice things for Jim. Mark Twain presented the terrible existence of slavery and gives the reader a big adventure in how a white can sacrifice so much for a slave to reach freedom.