Mark Twain’s ability to make sweeping social commentary through unassuming characters is on display throughout his classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The novel’s protagonist, Huck, assists a runaway slave named Jim without much abolitionist thought. Huck has no issues with the institution of slavery and maintains his cultural assumptions of slaves even as he helps one escape.
Nevertheless, Huck’s conscience suffers at times from his collaboration with Jim. In one instance, he finds Jim moaning to himself. He doesn’t wonder why -- he knows Jim misses his wife and children. Still, Huck tells the reader, “I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for ther’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so.”
That scene always moves me. Jim, who runs away to escape being sold from his family, thinks of them and mourns. His pipe dream in freedom was to work for the purchase of his loved ones. But at this point in the book, the journey seems dubious and his hope fades. Huck notices his grief and marvels at a black man longing for his family in the same way a white person might -- and deems it unnatural.
Full article at Christ and Pop Culture.