Category Archives: Classic Books

Group Thinks v. Long Thinks


In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck encounters a number of deep moral dilemmas. The biggest of course is whether or not he should help Jim a slave escape from his “rightful owner” a woman who had never done him any harm. Huck “knows” what he should do. His conscience tells him that. He should not help a slave to escape. That would be wrong. But Huck stops and makes “a long think.” He must think critically.


Huck is also challenged by religion. He was taught that ever since he was born. Religion, together with the notion of white supremacy, is the ideology of his life. He “knows” it is right yet is challenged about it. Both of these are ideologies. They are both born from group think. We believe what we are taught by our team.

When Huck was having difficulties falling into the group think, Miss Watson would take him into the closet and pray with him.

“But nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warn’t so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn’t any good to me without hooks. I tried for hooks there or four times., but somehow I couldn’t make it work. By and by, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why. And couldn’t make it out no way. ”


As a result, Huck did what he should do.  He “set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think.” He thought about it critically with all his faculties. His reasoning would not be considered very sophisticated. As he said,

“I said to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for why don’t Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork?  Why can’t the widow her snuff-box that was stole? Why can’t Miss Watson fat up? No, I says to myself, there ain’t nothing in it. I went and told the widow about it and she said, the thing a body could get by praying for it was “spiritual gifts.” This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant—I must help other people, and do everything I could for others, and look out for them all the time and never think about myself…I went out in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn’t see no advantage about it—except for the other people, so I reckoned I wouldn’t worry about it anymore, but just let it go.”


Ironically this is exactly what Huck later did. He followed her advice when it came to helping Jim. He neglected in the extreme what was good for himself—namely avoiding hell, but helped Jim anyway. And this is really what religion is all about. It is not about praying for fishhooks. It is about felling empathy for others, like Huck did to Jim. In Huck’s case it was his critically thinking, not his religious ideology that led him to do the right thing. His religious ideology taught him to do the wrong thing, namely worry about eternal heaven at the cost of his friend’s freedom. His ideology misfired. He said he would listen to this ideology but could not do it. He rejected the group think and did the right thing, thanks to a long think.

A long think combined with fellow feeling is a most powerful force!

I think that is what the religious quest in the modern age is all about.

Shouldn’t we all make more long thinks?


Confronting Truth and finding spiritual freedom


Authorities have known for a long time, at least since the time of Plato, that the rebellion of poets and artists is dangerous to established authority and power. Their alternative reality is also one that is deviant and defiant. The members of the Republic of the Imagination are always prepared to dissent. That makes them uncompliant to power that wants to dominate. That makes them subversive and hostile to arbitrary authority. Not all authority.


One can only belong to such a subversive group if one has not only the courage of one’s convictions, but as Nietzsche said, “the courage to attack one’s convictions.” No truths are too sacred to be attacked or challenged. Even those we hold most dear. There should be no barriers to pursuing truth. One should be free to challenge all conventional wisdom. Even the truths of patriots are open to question. The country cannot demand absolute obedience or obeisance. Great literature is always ready, willing, and able to attack any sacred cows. That is why, as Nafisi said, “If we need fiction today, it is not because we need to escape from reality; it is because we need to return to it with eyes that are refreshed, or as Tolstoy would have it, “clean-washed.

We must recognize that there are more freedoms than one. Nowadays the idea of freedom has been besmirched. In Canada we recently had the freedom convoy in our nation’s capital. The members of that convoy basically demanded the freedom to do whatever they wanted. They really recognized no limits on freedom, which of course, means they advocated for anarchy which is not freedom at all. It is an illusory freedom that they urge upon us. It is not the freedom to light out for the territory of Huck Finn.

Once again, Azar Nafisi made this point eloquently:

But of course, there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious, you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and displaying.  The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty, unsexy little ways, every day.  That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

 This is the freedom of Huck Finn. He was willing to sacrifice not just his life, but put himself in peril of eternal damnation, to save his friend, a black slave. That was the freedom he wanted. And he would do anything to achieve it. It was not a selfish freedom; it was real freedom. It was not the freedom of the convoy for whom freedom was all about me.

In its essence this is the freedom to think. Even if it’s a “long think.” The freedom to think for oneself, not chained to the conventional wisdom. It takes courage to be free. And no one had more courage than Huck Finn. After, all he was willing to risk eternal damnation. This is the freedom of Huck Finn!

 That is what a spiritual declaration of independence is all about.

We need a Spiritual Declaration of Independence


The original American dream was a dream of freedom. Sadly, that dream is often for sale or forsaken.  Many Americans have given up on that dream. They are willing to turn their lives over to a strongman, no matter how foul. They have traded their freedom for the perceived belief that only a strong man can save them from the carnage. Instead of freedom these paltry Americans (just like their equally paltry Canadian cousins) want security or wealth or fame or grimy tax breaks.


The members of the fictional world, epitomized by Huck Finn who would not give up his freedom for anything, are the real heroes of the American and Canadian dreams. As Azar Nafisi said,

“We must remember that, despite the prevailing attitude today that arrogantly defines success as money, the real heroes of this nation’s fictional landscape are vagrants, marginal, and subversive, from Melville’s Bartleby, the scrivener whose mantra is “I would prefer not to,” the heroines of Henry James and Edith Wharton, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Zora Neal Hurston’s Janie, Bellows Herzog, Philip Roth’s Sabbath   or Omar Little of The Wire, who reminds us of the importance of a code of honor. All seek integrity and listen to their hearts’ dictates, cautioning us against our willingness to betray the American dream when it is, as Fitzgerald put it, besmirched with the “foul dust that floats in the wake” of our dreams.”


That is why Nafisi said “we must make a new declaration of independence, a spiritual rather than a political one this time.


Like young but brave Huck Finn, all must be able to enjoy “a freedom to turn their back on society and what is expected of them, and to forge their own lonely path.

Like Huck we must be free to abandon conventional wisdom or morality and “light out for the territory.” If Huck can do it, we can do it. The American dream, which really is also the Canadian dream, may be besmirched but it is not dead—yet.

 I would go so far as to say that is a religious quest in the modern age.

Books Matter in the Republic of the Imagination:


Perhaps people living under totalitarian regimes know better than the rest of us that books matter. In such countries people are not allowed to read any book they desire to read. They can only read the approved books. Those are the books that align well with the interests of those in power. If they want to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn they may not be able to do so. Even in Canada and the United States some people want to control the books that the rest of us read. Such people don’t believe in freedom of expression or the freedom to read. They usually have a “good cause” to justify their intrusions into our reading lives.  I am not saying all restrictions are unjustified intrusions. I am only saying we must be vigilant to ensure that only the very rare books justify such an intrusion.

That is why we learn that books really do matter. As Azar Nafisi said,


“…books matter, that they open up a window into a more meaningful life, that they enable us to tolerate complexity and nuance and to empathize with people whose lives and conditions are utterly different form our own.”


In unfree states, or in states on the road to unfreedom, such as perhaps the United States is headed, some people want to prevent others from reading anything contrary to the truths they hold dear. In Iran that means no deviance from the form of Islam the regime has approved. In the southern US that means no deviance from the approved belief among the powerful that the US is not a racist country. In some parts of the US, like Florida, among conservatives, that means no books that foster a view of gender and sexuality that fails to conform to the conventional wisdom of evangelical Christians. At least the children should not be allowed to read such books. They do not want others to have fellow feeling for those living lives different from their own.

Huck Finn refused to give obeisance to the conventional wisdom about race. He was the consummate rebel from the conventional wisdom. Nafisi put it well:

Huckleberry Finn is perhaps the most memorable of those humble citizens of the imaginary America who stand up to forces great and terrible, but Huck refuses to return home, thus foreshadowing the destinies and shaping the choices of so many other fictional American characters who either leave home, never return, or long to do so. Those homeless protagonists of American fiction become the true guardians of what is best in American individualism, never identifying happiness with wealth or power. Perhaps in no other fiction, in fact, is materialism so frowned upon, or defined as the root of so many evils—an ironic but salutary reminder for a country so blatantly devoted to the pursuit of wealth and power.


Only brave rebels like Huck Finn can resist the lure of that materialism. They make the mistake Bob Dylan warned about namely, “don’t go mistaking paradise for that home across the road.” Like Huck Finn who preferred the freedom of life on a raft to the comfortable but “smothery” home.

The members of the Republic of the Imagination are the writers, musicians and artists that are rebels who say no to the smothering ideology of the conventional wisdom. As Azar Nafisi said,

“All writers are strangers, or pariahs, as Hannah Arendt put it. They look at the world through the eyes of the outsider” but only the American writers turn this attribute into a national characteristic…we need to reflect on this constant restlessness, this unending questioning, this battle between the desire for prosperity and success and the urge to walk away from it all, to be wary of complacency—in short to perform the miracle of the small vagabond Huck, who followed his heart as he floated on a raft down the Mississippi.


That was why Huck decide to “light out for the territory” rather than be smothered in comfort. That is why Huck is a charter member of the Republic of the Imagination. But we can all join.

 Books matter in the republic of the Imagination; none more so than the classics like Huckleberry Finn.

Thinking not dying


Can great literature lead to great societies?

There is no obvious and direct link between democratic societies and great literature. As Joseph Brodsky correctly pointed out, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were all very literate men. That did not help societies in the countries they led. But that does not mean there is no connection.

Democratic societies, it has often been observed, need good citizens. Citizens who have not forgotten how important freedom is and know that to protect a fragile democracy—and all democracies are fragile—an alert and informed citizenry is essential. Azar Nafisi explained how books like the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were important as a consequence:

For this they need to know, to pause, to think, to question. It is this quality that we find in so many of America’s fictional heroes, from Huckleberry Finn to Mick Kelly in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. How can we protect ourselves from a country of manipulation, where tastes and flavors are re-created chemically in laboratories and given to us as natural food, where religion is packaged, televised, and tweeted and commercials influence us to such an extent that they dictate not only what we eat, wear, read, and want but what we know and dream. We need the pristine beauty of truth as revealed to us in fiction, poetry, music and the arts: we need to retrieve the third eye of the imagination.

Democracies can benefit from its citizens engaging in what Huck called “a long think.” Nothing is better for purpose than literature or art, or other works of the imagination. This is what Nafisi called “The Republic of the Imagination.” This is what allows us to live and avoid a smothery death.

In totalitarian societies people risk their lives to achieve this. The risks are clear and present. But even in democratic societies lives are at risk to, for smothered lives are not worth living.

People in totalitarian societies often appreciate the freedom to read much more acutely than citizens of democratic societies. But they are not the only ones. As Scout said in that wonderful book To Kill a Mockingbird, another classic, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”

In the Republic of the Imagination, as Nafisi says, “We must read, and we must continue to read the great subversive books, our own and others.”

And in my opinion there is no more subversive book than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That is why it is a great book. Perhaps the best novel of all time. That is a possibility.  It is my favourite novel.  That is a certainty.

Tom Sawyer, who appears in this book at the beginning and then returns to wreak havoc near the end of the book, is completely befuddled by what he has “learned” from reading books. It gets Tom into trouble and more importantly endangers the lives of others, such as the slave Jim. He keeps insisting how they must conform to the books no matter how absurd and no matter how little he understands of what those books actually say. Sawyer is continually barking up the wrong reality tree.


Tom asks Huck, “Do you want to go doing something different from what’s in the books and get things all muddled up?” Huck agreed, saying: “all kings is mostly rapscallions…You couldn’t tell them from the real kind.” Huck’s conclusion was a sound one: “Sometimes I wish we could hear  of a country that’s out of kings.” Huck would appreciate the wisdom of John Lennon.

We can think or we can die. That is the  choice.

Avoiding a Smothery Death


I know I have been going too long about the wonderful book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But it is a classic and classics are worth it. At least in my opinion they are worth the extra time. I promise to bring these posts to a close soon. But I think there is so much to learn from that novel.

It is obvious that totalitarian societies impose horrendous encroachments on freedom.  Democratic societies are more subtle.

Of course, in a democratic society the arts of the imagination don’t usually threaten the state, but they help seduce us into what Nafisi e called “a paralysis of consciousness” and what she also referred to as “an intellectual indolence.” Both of those were  recognized by Huck Finn, though he expressed it in other words such as “smothery.” Huck Finn demonstrated that in order to avoid the “smothery” embrace of a conformist society it was absolutely necessary to rebel and “light out for the territories.” Nothing else will suffice.

Nazar Nafisi put the issue this way:

“Every state, including a totalitarian one, has its lures and seductions. The price we pay for succumbing is conformity, a surrender of one’s self to the dictates of the group. Fiction is an antidote, a reminder of the power of individual choice. Every novel has at its core a choice by at least one of its protagonists, reminding the reader that she can choose to be her own person, to go against what her parents or society or the state tell her to do and follow the faint but essential beat of her own heart.”


No one better exemplifies this awful choice more than Huck Finn who is willing to go to hell for doing the “wrong thing” so that he can save his friend Jim. Who is a better emblem of freedom and dissent from conformity that that?

Huck knows that to give in to “sivilization” and the Sunday school marms like Miss Watson, is to accept a “smothery” death and he won’t accept that. Instead, he will “light out for the territory” because  “there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.” Huck would not give up freedom for a comfortable home.

Huck was like the great artists mentioned by Nafisi when she said,

“What made Brodsky, Nabokov, Czeslaw Milosz and Hannah Arendt—all of whom took refuge in America (Einstein too for that matter)—resist the totalitarian states of their home countries and reject the empty temptations of Western democracies was essentially one and the same thing: they knew that to negate and betray that inner self was not just a surrender to the tyrant’s will but a sort of self-inflicted death. You become a cog in a vast and invisible wheel over which you have no control—Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, only without the comedy.”

Not for them a “smothery” death. Not for me either.

A Hit List or a reading list


Azar Nafisi is a professor of literature now living in America, who originally taught literature in Iran.  In fact she taught American novels including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  She taught this amazing book, whose theme is freedom, to Iranians students in Tehran. Eventually Nafisi left Iran for freedom in America. She loves literature and the works of the imagination as I do. She is just much more eloquent than I am.  She said,

“The way we view fiction is a reflection of how we define ourselves a nation. Works of the imagination are canaries in the coal mine, the measure by which we can evaluate the health of the rest of society.”


She learned this, she says. She taught in the midst of a totalitarian society. In the novel Huck had an awful choice to make. He could choose to follow what he called his “conscience.” By that he really meant conventional morality. This is what he had been taught by his family, and his society around him. These were the authorities. If he followed them, he would bring the slave Jim back to his “rightful owner’ the good Christian Miss Watson. Or he could choose to follow what he had learned in his life with Jim—i.e. that Jim was the best of all the people he knew and he was his true friend and he should help him to freedom so Jim could reunite with his family. Huck chose to do what he thought was the wrong thing, the thing that would lead him to hell, but would save his friend. Could anyone ever have a better friend? He literally risked it all to save his friend.

The poet Joseph Brodsky, like Azar Nafisi, had been brought up in a totalitarian society. He in Russia; she in Iran. Both came to appreciate the revolutionary power of the imagination and works of the imagination. Not that they are a panacea. After all, Brodsky pointed out, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were all literate people who read lots of books. Brodsky said, the problem is “their hit lists were longer than their reading lists.

That is why totalitarian states, and authoritarian leaders are so quick to attack books and the liberal arts. They know that these works are dangerous to the authoritarians.  Both, whether, from the left or the right, want to remove them at all costs. As Nafisi said, “They know the dangers of genuine free inquiry.” Some of these authoritarians even in the west, have tried to ban The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Why? They are doing it for the same reason the dictators did—i.e. to control the readers. They don’t want the readers to think.




In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the scenes involving the Duke and Dauphin show them as visitors from the theatre of the absurd. After telling Jim and Huck all about their phony recent projects of the past including “selling an article to take tartar off the teeth” only to remove “the enamel along with it as well”, and “a-running a temperance revival thar ‘bout a week,” or doing “a little patent medicines with “theatre actor-tragedy,” taking “a turn to mesmerism and phrenology,” teaching “singing geography” and “sling a lecture” they claim, with a straight face to be European nobility. One is a Duke and the other a Dauphin.

Yet, for all that, are these two “rapscallions” who are obvious hicks from rural America as far removed from European royalty as the moon is from the earth, any less believable than “real” royalty, who are only noble because people are taught to believe it? The gullibility of people in America, like the gullibility of people in Europe or Canada is staggeringly profound.


The “Duke” allows that Jim and Huck can refer to them as “Your Grace,” or “My Lord” or “Your Lordship”. Yet he said he wouldn’t mind if they call him “Bridgewater” to show what a good guy he is, without any airs, but “at least one of them ought to wait on us at dinner and do any little thing for him he wanted done.” After all, do nobility deserve any less that? And are these fraudsters really any more fake than the real nobility in large castles? Huck keeps referring to him as “Bilgewater” instead. A fitting name for a bullshitter.

Yet Huck is assured, “Yes gentlemen, you see before you, in blue jeans and misery, the wanderin’, exiled trampled-on, and sufferin’ rightful King of France” And oddly, the King of France speaks with the perfect accident of a Missourian.

So Jim and Huck “set to majestying him.” After all it is the people who make majesties of hucksters. Huck had learned from his scoundrel of a father “the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.” At least until they turned the tables on them. That is what we should do with “real” kings too.  At least until it’s time to turn the tables on them.

Jim was not fooled by them either. He realized quickly that “dese kings o’ ourn is regular rapscallions.”

Huck concluded: “Sometimes I wish we could hear of a country that’s out of kings.” Wouldn’t we all like that? Including those monarchs we elect every few years.

You don’t have to look far to find a lot of wisdom in a classic novel like Huck Finn.


Fiction vs. reality


This is of course not the first time I read The Adventures of Huckleberry. It is at least the second. I am trying to re-read at least one classic book each year. I know the last time I read it, about 30 years ago, or more, I was a bit put off by some of the fantastical elements.  I thought they were too far out there. Not real. Not believable.


Now with the maturity of a second read, I feel differently about these fantastical elements. They are fantastic. There is no doubt about that. But they have their place. They are there for a reason.

I know I was deeply perplexed by the scenes involving the Duke and the Dauphin.  These were two obvious conmen.  Who could take them seriously?  Not even rural rubes from Missouri could be fooled by these knaves. At least so I thought.

Now after my own “long think,” as Huck would call it, I feel differently. They are absurd and fantastical, but that is exactly the point.  Reality is no less absurd! In fact, reality is much more absurd than these fantastic or fabulist elements. After all, what could be more absurd and unbelievable than Jim, the noblest character in the novel, being owned by others solely because the “owners” have a different coloured skin than Jim does? That is the “real world” of Missouri in the middle of the 19th century. It is a world in which a noble black man can be ripped from his family and sold “down river” to evil men in the deep south of America just because these white men claim ownership.  And in that process these evil white men are constantly supported by the law, the churches, and “the good people” like Miss Watson. It is impossible for a writer of fiction to come up with anything as fantastic and unbelievable as this so-called reality.


And that is the point. Fiction is a mighty weak force for creating unreality compared to the powers that be.

 In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn many people tell stories. The worst is probably Tom Sawyer in his short but extravagant appearance in the novel. He manipulates fakeries and puts the life of Jim in danger as a result. He means well, but he stresses out Jim to the point of torture with his crazy stories and absolute necessity of doing what the books say to save Jim when there is an obvious simpler saner way to do it. The fraudulent Duke and the dauphin are constantly making up stories to set people up to be conned. Pap rants and raves in his wild stories. And the pious Miss Watson tells stories about heaven and hell while she prepares to separate a black man from his wife by selling them down the river to different owners. Thankfully though she recants. Jim brings everyone down to reality. Jim shows the reality of his suffering and his pain that almost everyone else is blind to because he is black.

Fiction can be true in the same sense that sacred texts are true.  It is not because either of them produce facts. They don’t. But a work of fiction, like a work of faith, can have a much deeper reality than the paucity of surface facts. Such texts can show a deeper reality, if not a literal reality. They don’t need to show a literal reality, which, after all, can be a pretty thin gruel.  It is as nonsensical to read a work like the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to find facts as it is to find facts through a literal reading of the book of Genesis. And both exercises lead to perverse consequences. In both cases the person intended to benefit from the exercise is put in jeopardy instead, like poor Jim in jail being rescued by Tom Sawyer who merely desires to make the plot glorious no matter how much danger his planning puts Jim into. The literal reality is not important. The deeper reality is all.  Just as it was absurd for Tom Sawyer to plumb works of literature to learn how to rescue Jim from jail, so it is absurd to read the book of Deuteronomy to find rational ethical principles.  Yet neither texts are less for that. Both can sing with truth.

Unreality: The Upside-down world of Huck Finn.


When I first read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn many years ago, I recall I was a bit disconcerted by the scenes that seemed to me to be far-fetched. It seemd unreal. It was unreal. Now I think that was the point.

There is lots of absurdity in the novel: the horrible advice Huck got from his father, the Duke and the Dauphin, Tom Sawyer’s absurd attempts to make the rescue of Jim conform to what he has “learned from novels,” even if that means putting Jim’s life in serious danger.  All of this mirrors the absurdity of the American morality which condemns a slave like Jim, the most good-hearted character in the novel, just because of the colour of his skin. All this while the conventional morality, praised the  casual brutality like that of Aunt Sally who was prepared to separate Jim from his wife and family for a few dollars. After all, in a “topsy-turvy” world as Twain called it what could be more unreal than reality? Reality has to be revaluated, turned on its head, to make any sense at all.

In the novel Huck helps Jim, the black slave, to escape from the bonds of his slavery, even though he believes by doing so he is committing a mortal sin that will lead him straight to hell. He is willing to pay the supreme price to save his friend. Yet at the same time, he can’t help playing tricks on Jim. The two hop on a raft and drift on the Mississippi but of course, the river flows south which is toward ever greater danger. They should be heading north to the free states. Their plan is to drift south until they reach the place where the Ohio river flows into the Mississippi river. Then they will head north. This is where the town of Cairo is located. Their plan was to sell their raft in Cairo and buy a steamboat ticket up north. A good plan, but like so many plans, it runs afoul of reality.

One dark and foggy night Jim and Huck get separated from each other. Jim is on the raft and Huck on a canoe. To Jim it looked like he had lost his only friend in the world. He was disconsolate. But Huck finds Jim in the night asleep at the rudder and decides to play a trick on old Jim.  A mean trick. When Huck wakes up Jim who fell asleep at the rudder, he pretends that they were never separated at all. He convinces Jim that he had been dreaming. They have a conversation in the night that might just as well have been between the French philosopher Descartes and Jean Jacque Rousseau. They argue about reality! Jim says Huck had been gone. Huck denies it, even though it was true.  Jim says to Huck: “Well, looky here boss, dey’s sumfn wrong, or wha is I? Now dat’s what I wants to know.”  To which Huck responds” “Well, I think you’re here, plain enough, but I think you’re but a tangle-headed old fool, Jim.” To which Jim replies like the most sophisticated philosopher: “”I is, is I? Well you answer me this: Didn’t you tote out de line in de canoe for to make fas’ a towhead?”  From there Huck’s lies completely befuddle Jim who can’t figure out if the separation happened or he just had a dream. Reality is fractured and that is immensely cruel to an escaping slave who must at all times have a solid bead on reality to keep alive. Jim replies: “But, Huck, it’s all plain to me as—” and Hucks cuts him off, “It don’t make no difference how plain it is; there ain’t nothing in it. I know, because I’ve been here all the time.” Jim concluded it was the most powerful dream he ever had.

Eventually, Jim realizes Huck has been tricking him. Fooling him and he is deeply hurt. After all he thought he had lost his best friend! What a cruel joke! Jim laments:

“When I got wid work, en wid de callin’ for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz broke mos’ bekase you wuz los, en I didn’t k’yer no mo’ what become er me en de raf. En when I wake up en fine you back ag’n, all safe en soun’, de tears come, en I coud’a’ down on my knees en kiss yo’ foot, I’s so thankful.  En all you wuz thinkin’ bout wuz you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck day is trash; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren’s en makes’em ashamed.”

Jim demonstrates that he is the real moral center of the novel. Not the Sunday school morality of Miss Watson.

When Jim explains it like that he realizes what a terrible thing he did in tricking Jim. Jim loved him and he treated him badly! As Huck said in response:

“It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back. It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go an humble myself to a nigger, but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward, neither. I didn’t do no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d knowed it would make him feel that way.”


Even though it was unheard of for a white man to lower himself to the level of nigger Huck did exactly that. Reality was turned on its head. That is what Huck had to. Just he turned morality on its head.