Friday, March 3, 2017

We Are All Toms

In his critique of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, George Sauders places two of the most significant characters in the novel, Huck and Tom, into two separate categories. Sauders characterizes Huck as the open minded and hopeful spirit of the novel, who's mind is mold-able and whose heart is open. He characterizes Tom as the stubborn, close-minded spirit, not only unwilling to change, but unwilling to listen to the arguments of others.

I see America as similar to Tom because Tom gets caught up in the adventure and emotional aspects of his journey, that he forgets to consider everyone involved or hear the ideas of everyone involved. This disregard for others applies to the majority of  Americans today.

Of course, there are the upper class white men in our government, refusing to let human beings feel comfortable performing basic human functions, like using bathroom, and working hard to gain control of women's bodies and how they choose to live their lives. Below these men, are even more Tom-spirited minions, citizens of the United States caught up in the rhetoric of Donald Trump. In the same way that Tom got caught up reading about the histories of criminals and how things were traditionally done, citizens of the United States get passionately caught up in Donald Trumps speeches riddled with buzz words alluding tradition and reverting back to a "great" America. People with this mind set get so emotionally involved that they neglect to think about how realistic their desired actions are or how they might hurt others.

I also see the spirit of Tom in the people fighting the people currently holding positions of power in America. After participating in the women's march, I came to realize that there are ways to protest with seemingly progressive ideas in mind, like feminism or LGBTQ+ rights, without being progressive at all. Feminism in America often turns in to white feminism, lead by white women, totally disregarding the fact that other women of different races have broken through or still wear chains completely different from ours and they are only lost and oppressed further by our bright white protests.

American's inherent promotion of white feminism is similar to how Tom basically tortures Jim in the process of helping him escape. He wants the end result, the change and the glory that comes with it, but he doesn't care who he hurts on the way. This situation also applies to white feminism in that the whole point of Tom's mission is to free Jim, but Jim is the one he hurts. The whole idea behind feminism is lifting up all women, letting everyone's voices be heard, yet fighting for these things, women suppress the voices of fellow women.

Americans are Tom-like in the way the we get caught up in tradition or completely disregarded those with different experiences from us. There are ways to gain a Huck-like spirit, but it takes more work than blind participation or getting caught up in emotion or tradition. There is so much push to protest and create change, but I think that as important as it is to participate, it is important to sit back and think about what your participation means for all Americans, not just those having the same experiences as you. Huck became the most open minded when he sat back and watched, listened, and thought about the world around him.


  1. Nice analysis! I totally agree that people are like Tom because they get caught up in tradition

  2. Nice! I love that you used white feminism as an example that even some people who think they're Hucks really aren't.