While I did not disagree with the entirety of Smiley’s essay, I did not find it to be particularly fair. As Kaila mentioned in her post, Smiley is unreasonably comparing The Adventures of Huck Finn to those of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Besides the fact that these two works were written more than 30 years apart, Smiley points out that Harriet Beecher Stowe identified as an abolitionist herself. So while Twain had an amiable attitude toward African Americans, Stowe was writing from the perspective of a social justice activist, which might explain why readers, such as Smiley, prefer Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Huck Finn. Further more, Smiley contends that Uncle Tom’s Cabin exposes the reality of human evil and suffering, but I believe the same could be said for Twain’s novel, particularly in regards to the selfish Pap or in the capture of Jim.
Morrison’s take on the novel seemed much more thoughtful, especially because of its lasting effects on her that inspired her to reread the novel several times. Morrison regards The Adventures of Huck Finn as a “pleasure for young readers,” but “complicated territory for scholars” (387). This is due in part to the excitement of Huck as a rebellious outcast, but also the difficulty of Jim’s place in the novel, particularly as a father figure to Huck. Interestingly enough, Jim is the only male character in the novel (besides Judge Thatcher) that can adequately provide “fathership” (I made that up) to Huck. In fact, Morrison contends that “only a black male slave can deliver all Huck’s desires” (390).
The Kolvenbach and King essays, in relation to intent (service of faith) and action (promotion of justice), enlighten us to consider HOW we might achieve social justice. The combination of intent and action is an important one because it solidifies the potential for change. Mind and body unify to create the strength necessary to confront and challenge the issue of racism. Put more eloquently in the words of Saint Ignatius: “love [must] be expressed not only in words but also in deeds” (Kolvenbach, 7).