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Jim Zwick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Fri, 19 Mar 2004 18:28:42 -0500
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On 19 Mar 2004 at 16:57, Fred Kaplan wrote:

> As I understand the issue, the argument is not about whether Twain named =
> Jim "Nigger Jim" but whether he referred to him as "nigger Jim."

Angie Dixon's point about the importance of "the" in Twain's reference
to "the nigger Jim" is critical.  I would say that Twain did not refer to
him as "nigger Jim," though he did refer to him as "the nigger[,] Jim."
Jim is introduced in Huck Finn as "Miss Watson's big nigger, named
Jim."  In both cases, nigger is a description, not part of a name used
to refer to the character.  That is very different from, for example,
"Injun Joe" in Tom Sawyer, or "Nigger Jim" as Paine refers to him in
the biography.  Joe is referred to as "Injun Joe," but Jim is not referred
to as "nigger Jim" -- he is described as being a "nigger."  "Refer to"
implies a form of naming and Twain did not name or refer to Jim as
"nigger Jim."  Saying Twain referred to "nigger Jim" is like saying an
author who writes "the tall Jake easily reached the top of the ledge"
referred to the character as "tall Jake."  I'd say the author described
Jake as tall but didn't refer to him as "tall Jake."


Jim Zwick
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