Jim and Huckleberry Finn’s growth throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn set the stage for Daniel Hoffman’s interpretation in “From Black Magic-and White-in Huckleberry Finn.” Hoffman exhibits that through Jim’s relationship with Huckleberry, the river’s freedom and “in his supernatural power as interpreter of the oracles of nature” (110) Jim steps boldly towards manhood.
Jim’s evolution is a result of Twain’s “spiritual maturity.” Mark Twain falsely characterizes superstition as an African faith but, Daniel Hoffman explains that most folk lore in Huckleberry derives from European heritage. Tying your hair into knots with thread to defend against witches who ride their prey is even referenced in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Mr.
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“For Huck, the omens are an acknowledgement of the fact of death.” (102) While Huck can try to dominate these powers in nature he is only a student compared to Jim. During the course of the book Jim comes from a man controlled by his fear of witches to controlling evils. With Jim’s power to predict the future he becomes more liberated. He finds strength in foreseeing death. Hoffman concludes that Jim’s power derives from the river and he only wields this power on the raft alone with Huck Finn. “The river god is indifferent to humanity: he runs on uncontaminated by the evils along his shores; asserting now and then in dominance and power over ‘the damned human race.’” (105) When they land on the shore or the Duke and King join them Jim loses his mystical powers. Huck returns to the care giver role. Jim is also able to cure the snakebite illustrating his dominance as a medicine man over the universe. Even during his captivity he holds on to the belief that he controls black magic. Jim sinks farther from his minstrel stereotype through his use of his black magic and freedom. He often passes his knowledge onto Huck Finn.
Jim’s knowledge of folk lore helps him to protect Huck. When the “House of Death” floats by Jim is first to explore the wreckage and finds Pap’s body. He shelters Huckleberry from this horrific truth. Hoffman implies that this knowledge allows Jim to assume the role of Huck’s father. Huck also takes on the role of