Educated vs. Uneducated, The Slave Belongs Where?

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"Tom said we'd got to; there warn't no case of a state prisoner not scrabbling his inscription to leave behind, and his coat of arms. …
"Jim's got to do his inscription and coat of arms. They all do."
Jim says:
"Why, Mars Tom, I hain't got no coat o' arms; I hain't got nuffn but dish-yer ole shirt, en you knows I got to keep de journal on dat." " - Samuel Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 38

Here is your classic case of something I learned about in Assessment a few weeks ago - acculturation. No teacher should automatically make an assumption about a student based off of their culturally background.  A good example of this would be seen in the following:

A teacher asks a student what the four seasons are, and the student answers, "Duck, deer, turkey, and bear."

This does not imply that the student is ignorant or mentally retarded.  It simply means that the student was brought up learning that the hunting seasons WERE the seasons.

The same situation follows with Jim.  Just because he says that he doesn't have a coat of arms in the sense that he doesn't have a clothing article coat, this doesn't mean that he is unintelligent.  Rather, it actually proves a fact that he is very intelligent, as the reader is able to deduce from the beginning with the hairball oracle incident.

3 Comments

Truth. This does not mean Jim is "stupid." And although he is mostly uneducated, he is smart in his own cunning ways, like you said, with money schemes, for example. It's similar to Huck, it is true that he does have some formal education, but he's able to think so fast. He can make up stories on the spot and he even manages to stage his own death, successfully. This book is a celebration of street smarts.

Tom has his own specialized knowledge, that he got from books, and unlike what you learned in your assessment class, Tom has no problem forcing his sense of what is "right" on everyone else. He forces it on Huck, too, so it's not just a question of race, but it's certainly a question of power. Good call!

What a great insight, with not being a Writing major, that was a comparison that I would have never thought of. Thanks for the lesson Alexi!

As for Tom and Huck, I believe that Tom is educated more than Huck and ranks himself about Huck. I believe that is why Tom has so many crazy ideas and Huck basically looks at him like, really? I am glad Huck questions Tom on some things, this shows there are many different types of "smart".

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This page contains a single entry by Alexi J. Swank published on October 19, 2010 10:53 PM.

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