Literature Essay

This is an assignment for my American Literature class. I wrote word for word the instructions he gave below.(It needs to be double spaced):

Using two or three scenes from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, discuss how Twain’s characterization of Jim either affirms or contradicts the assertions about the literary representations of African Americans made by the narrator of the James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man:

…log cabins and plantations and dialect-speaking “darkies” are perhaps better known than any other single picture of our national life. Indeed, they form an ideal and exclusive literary concept of the American Negro to such an extent that it is almost impossible to get the reading public to recognize him in any other setting; so I shall endeavor to avoid giving the reader any overworked and hackneyed descriptions. This generally accepted literary ideal of the American Negro constitutes what is really an obstacle in the way of the thoughtful and progressive race. His character has been established as a happy-go-lucky, laughing, shuffling, banjo-picking being, and the reading public has not yet been prevailed upon to take him seriously. His efforts to elevate himself socially are looked upon as a sort of absurd caricature of the “white civilization.” (Page from Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man)

(After he gave us the sheet that had the instructions–what I wrote above) He asked us to ask ourselves the following questions.

1. How is Jim portrayed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
2. Is he a fool or are we just perceiving him from a 12 year old’s point of view and he is really acting like an adult?
3. Is Jim JUST a character?
4. Is Twain making a joke of Jim as a character or is Twain wanting us to see Jim deeper than that?

(The teacher also said there is no right or wrong answer to this, but he will grade it based on how well we support our theory and providing examples/scenes that helped us come to that theory.)

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