Mark Twain Essays
Coming Of Age In “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” By Mark Twain
Dealing with an abusive father, vicious dogs, being chased by a crowd of angry southerners are among the many obstacles Huck Finn faces in his journey to personal salvation, but more explicitly, the saving of his friend Jim. Along this journey, Huck experiences his own personal development, turning from a young rascal in a southern town to a mature young man who is able to think for himself. Throughout Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the protagonist, Huck Finn undergoes a climactic moral evolution generated by his rejection of societal values and the friendships he forms along his journey.
Much of Huck’s moral development is seen through his use of lies. He begins the story as someone who condemns the use of lying, but openly does it himself. He strictly does it for his own benefit. An early example of this is seen in his conversations with Judith Loftus. He attempts to convince her he is a girl, hoping to gain some information on the town’s stance on his disappearance. He does this act strictly to help himself, not thinking about the sake of Jim, but only concerned of the possible consequences he could fall victim to. Huck’s relationship towards lying is changed when he encounters the robbers on the river. This event is the first example of Huck lying for someone other than himself. He sympathizes with these criminals, eventually realizing he must seek help for these robbers by the use of his lying. His thought process is displayed when Twain writes, “I begun to worry about the men… I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be murder myself, yet, and then how would I like it?”. Along from Huck’s applaudable example of sympathy, Huck uses empathy to help these criminals. He understands he must lie because no one else would go to these extreme lengths to help criminals. Huck understands that these are people, and although they have committed serious crimes, no human would deserve to potentially face the death that was staring them in the eye. This decision also brought about a sense of pride in Huck. He understood the nobility in these actions, knowing Widow Douglas would be proud of him. He recognizes that he is starting to become the person Widow Douglas, one of the few exemplars of good beliefs in Huck’s society, would want him to be. The final stage of Huck’s development is seen when he lies for Jim. Huck, like many times in the book, comes to a crossroads on whether or not to turn in Jim or not. He finally comes to a decision to lie to a pair of white males looking for slaves, a decision that could prove to be risky. When asked whether the person on the following raft was white or black, Huck, after much discernment, finally answers, “He’s white”. While this decision is not the first of Huck’s unselfish lies, it is truly the peak of it, although he does not even realize the positivity of his actions. He does not understand the nobility of his doings, making them so much more admirable. He sees no gain in this situation, knowing none of it provides immediate benefit for him. While lying isn’t morally correct, Huck demonstrates that using it for others can contribute to the goodness of a person.
As Huck’s story moves on, he learns he does not have to accept the beliefs of the adults in his life, but can rather create the ones he personally believes are right. This comes with his ability to discern what is wrong and what is right. He begins with an ability to question the beliefs of the people around him, but is not able to bring himself to go against these ideas and form his own until later in the novel. A specific example of this is seen in Huck’s encounter with the Granderford-Sheperdson feud. While the Grangerford’s are seen as fundamentally good people, because of how they were raised, a flaw is seen in their personal viewpoints. They see nothing wrong with this feud, brainwashed from birth that attempting to kill others for no specific reason is perfectly fine. While feud’s were not seen in all of society in the 1800’s, this example goes to display that Huck was able to see the fault in their beliefs. However, the largest example of Huck’s rejection of societal beliefs is in his journey to free Jim. Helping a slave both resulted in possible jail time and a hefty fine, according to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. While much of society believed freeing a slave was wrong, Huck was able to overcome these corrupted ideas, deciding for himself that the well-being of a person was far more important that any prejudistic laws. This idea was brought about by the positive relationship Huck has with Jim. Jim brings about this internal conflict inside Huck causing him, “to come to grips with the question of following society’s laws or following the dictates of his own conscience”. Huck in the end, chooses his conscience.Twain uses these examples to teach the reader never to succumb to the corruptness of their society by displaying that independent viewpoints should be valued more than the consensus of the people.
The friendship Huck forms with Jim develops him into someone who values friends over the values his society appreciated at the time. The personal relationship between Huck and Jim had its fair share of pranks, done all by Huck onto Jim. The three pranks performed increased in severity as they went on. Eventually, they reached a breaking point. Huck realizes his wrongdoings, eventually reaching a point of maturity where he was able to stop. However, the nobility of his actions rely in Huck’s acknowledgement of Jim as a person, one with feelings. He finally understands his actions hurt Jim. Unlike the people in his era, he recognizes Jim as an equal, not as an object or property. Additionally, the appreciation Jim has for the help Huck gave him help contribute to their friendship. Huck did not realize, or refused to acknowledge, the great deed he was doing Jim by helping to set him free. Huck eventually realizes his impact on Jim when he is told, “‘Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white gentleman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim.’” Huck is again reminded of his sacrifice to Jim, a sacrifice only a true friend would make. The quote marks an integral part of Huck’s internal conflict of whether to turn Jim in or not. He understands his society places a great deal of importance on runaway slaves. He understands that if caught, he could face persecution, both from the law and from those in his life. However, he comes to a realization that he cares more about helping his friend than succumbing to what society would want. The final example of the change in Huck’s attitude towards friendship is seen in the climax of the story. Huck has been taught that an alternative to turning Jim in is eternal damnation. His society has corrupted him into believing that he must ruin an innocent person’s life, just to be able to experience salvation. Huck, someone who rejects the values society forces upon him, decides his final decision when saying, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”. He decides to place his friendship with Jim over these corrupted ideals, not knowing he is doing the right thing. Huck overcomes the societal peer pressure to follow these values, becoming his own man. Huck proves that moral development is often influenced by the important people in life.
Throughout Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck undergoes a significant moral development in which he, by the use of his dismissal of the ideas his society presents and his personal relationships, is able to become a better person. Huck, in his efforts to free Jim, deals with serious internal conflict, dramatizing his eventual bildungsroman. He encounters moments where it seems he will never change, making the final result so much more spectacular. Twain uses this development to teach the readers that, no matter how corrupted their society is, can develop into the person they want to be. If Huck, a person with little education and an awful past life can bloom into a man for others, why can’t everyone?
An Analysis of the War Between the American and Philippine as Depicted in Mark Twain’s Article
Mark Twain was the most prominent opponent of the Philippine-American War. In its annual report for 1910, the year he died, the Anti-Imperialist League noted that he “employed in the cause of Anti-Imperialism and in behalf of the Filipino those wonderful weapons of satire which were so absolutely at his command, and the members of the League were able to appreciate what is not yet justly understood: that, more than a brilliant humorist, he was a passionate and zealous reformer.” What was “not yet justly understood” in 1910 remains so today. Nearly eclipsed by his deserved but overwhelming reputation as a humorist, Mark Twain’s writings on the war are among his least known. His relationship with the Anti-Imperialist League has received even less attention.(1)
The Philippine-American War, the United States’ first protracted war in Asia, marked the beginning of what Henry Luce would later name the “American Century.” When it purchased the Philippines from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, the United States held only Manila and its suburbs. The Filipinos, having waged a successful revolution for independence, controlled the rest of the country. To become a major power in Asia, with a naval coaling station in the Philippines providing easier access to the seemingly unlimited commercial markets in China, the United States first had to defeat the Filipinos’ poorly armed but popular army and abolish their newly established republic. The war that accomplished this feat officially lasted from February 1899 to July 1902, but regional guerrilla warfare and sporadic rebellions continued well into the next decade. Known at the time as the “Philippine Insurrection,” this war lasted longer, involved more U.S. troops, cost more lives and had a more significant impact on the United States than the three-month Spanish-American War that preceded it.
The conquest of the Philippines was part of a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy. Central and South America had long been within its sphere of influence, but the annexation of the Philippines was the country’s first major step into Asia as a world power. Supported by the rapid development of an integrated commercial and military route from the eastern seaboard of the United States to its Asian possession, the archipelago was to be the logistical hub for U.S. commercial expansion in Asia. From 1898 to 1903 the United States formally annexed Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines and acquired the Panama Canal Zone to facilitate trade between the oceans. “Thus the old America passes away,” a jubilant contemporary historian observed, “behold a new America appears, and her face is toward the Pacific!”(2)
Supporters of imperialism hailed it as essential for economic expansion and justified it as “the white man’s burden” of extending civilization to peoples considered incapable of governing themselves. Senator Albert Beveridge balanced these themes with remarkable dexterity: “The Philippines are ours forever. . . . And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee under God, of the civilization of the world.”(3)
Many others, however, viewed the creation of an empire as a threat to the country’s democratic and anticolonial political traditions. The opposition was organized by the Anti-Imperialist League, which was founded in Boston in November 1898 and soon had branches throughout the country. Its leaders ardently supported the Filipinos, but they consistently described Filipino goals as a secondary concern. Their first priority was to defend their own democratic republic from the new “un-American” policy of imperialism. Citing such documents as the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, they argued that imperialism was an adoption of the “government without representation” the country had fought two wars to end.
Although they came late in the debate, Mark Twain’s statements against the war made an important contribution to the anti-imperialist movement. His most influential article, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” was published shortly after William McKinley was reelected in a contest widely viewed as a “referendum on imperialism.” The essay sparked an intense controversy that revitalized the movement and restored some of the momentum it had lost following the election. The country’s leading anti-imperialist newspaper, the Springfield Republican (Mass.), editorialized that “Mark Twain has suddenly become the most influential anti-imperialist and the most dreaded critic of the sacrosanct person in the White House that the country contains.” His writings on the war are not only those of a great literary figure, they are those of a great anti-imperialist whose protest had a potent political impact.
Analysis of the Novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
Throughout the novel ,The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the main character, Huck, struggles to fight against society and determine his ultimate truth. The reader can tell from early on that Huck is different from society and is considered an outcast. While reading, one can see that his adventures are important lessons and essential for young Huck. During the novel Huck’s conscience is torn between two voices, and Huck has to make difficult decisions about whether he should do what society has taught him to be right or to do what he thinks is right.
At the time in the 1830’s slavery was a normalized and most people had accepted it apart of their everyday life. This held true for Huck at the beginning of the novel as well, but his adventure takes him on a journey of enlightenment. Starting out in the beginning of the novel Huck was just a boy who didn’t like school, wearing clean clothes, or being civilized. He was told what was right and wrong by Miss Watson, his caretaker, but he dismissed most of what she said. His attitude was very “non-conformist” because of his background with his Pap. At an early age Huck grew up with his drunk father, so it makes since that Huck would not be an “obedient” young boy and rebel against society. His trouble with his conscience all started when he had faked his own murder and met a runaway slave named Jim.
From the beginning of meeting Jim at a crucial time in the book, Huck had only seen him as a person and he fought the beliefs that the society had put in his head. He not only recognized him as a person, but as a friend. This was when Huck’s conscience began to eat him away. First, he was convinced that his reputation in society was worth betraying Jim’s trust for. Then he would remember how Jim was always there for him and thankful for his help. Huck began to feel worse and worse about his decisions and as the book progresses.
Towards the ending of the novel and the climax is when Huck’s moral development reached its peak. Throughout his time with Jim he would beat himself up about what was right or wrong. He felt wrong helping Jim because he knew that he was Miss Watson’s property and society made him think it was wrong to help him. However his instincts were telling him the opposite. During the climax Huck was faced with Jim being enslaved in a plantation and deciding on writing a letter to Jim’s owner, Miss Watson. He was going to write her and tell her where Jim had been, but decided against it. He iconically tore the letter in two and said, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” This showed that he would rather risk everything and go to hell than turn in his friend.
Overall, this novel was a stepping stone in history which taught us essential themes about racism, following what you believe, and unlikely friendships. Huck prevailed through the tough decisions and was oblivious to how heroic he was being. He showed us that following your instincts and going against society’s accepted values and truth is what one has to do to find his/her ultimate truth.
Review of Morality in The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
The world changes on a daily basis, with many different aspects, including the people, the cultures, along with different opinions and values. As the years pass, we can see the significant changes that are happening, but sometimes forget to take note of the things that remain the same and the aspects that are consistent. One of these aspects that can be seen in the world today that will always remain is morality.
Morality is one thing that will always remain, regardless of how many years pass, due to the fact that whether a person’s morality is good or bad it is something is instilled in someone. Morality is a personal choice, but sometimes one’s morality can be swayed by the social influence of one’s peers and decisions can then be made based off another person’s viewpoints or their feelings. Social influence can be shown when, “They hanged the lady, and I threw a stone at her, although in my heart I was sorry for her; but all were throwing stones and each was watching his neighbor, and if I had not done as the others did it would have been noticed and spoken of.” (Twain). Twain was referring to the incident, where a woman was hung for being accused of being a witch and was being stoned at the stake & was implying that people may not necessarily always feel the need to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing, but there are social pressures that are placed on people and that if we do not follow after what the majority is doing, we may be looked at in a different light and looked at as the minority and even in certain circumstances, something may happen to us for not following.
This social influence can still be seen in current day as well. Even though the consequences may not be as severe today, there are still certain instances that occur. You can see examples of the social influence that peers have on morality in things such as politics. While there will always be differences of opinions in matters like this, there will be people that will try to change one’s perception of how they view certain events and may try to get them to agree with the majority or even some instances, the minority group. For example, during this time of political events, there has been a recent conversation over separating immigrant families. Whether a person’s morals told them that it was right or wrong, people were still influenced. A majority of people believed that it wasn’t right, making the people who believed it was right the minority, meaning that people who believed it was not right may have tried to persuade people from the minority and vice versa. With situations like this, people will try to change morality by changing one’s perspective of a situation.
Another aspect of morality that can be called into conversation is a person’s ability to look at themselves as superior and put other people beneath them. Many times, as a group, there is a tendency to put people below us if they do not meet a certain criterion or are not living out a certain expectation. Twain makes the remark when Satan takes Theodor to the French village that, “The proprietors are rich, and very holy; but the wage they pay to these poor brothers and sisters of theirs is only enough to keep them from dropping dead with hunger.” By making this remark he is implying that as people, there is a tendency to treat people almost as if they are nothing and only trying to provide them with the bare minimum to make sure they are okay, instead of treating them fairly and on the same level who may be in a position that is better off than them. This can be seen as a morality issue, due to the fact that it should be a natural instinct to treat people fairly and equally, but instead people can be seen treating others in an inhumane way.
This issue can be seen in modern times as well. Specifically, in past couple of years, there has been a seemingly increase in treating people unfairly and inhumane. This demeanor towards people can be seen, because of differences in things such as difference of opinions on many different topics. If one’s morality is leaning more on seeing the good, it would be seen that someone may treat others kind and no better or less than them, but equal, even if there is a difference in opinions. When one’s morality may be focused on seeing more of the bad in things, they may look down on others and treat them as less and that’s when you can see the inhumane actions occur such as the living and work conditions described in the French village, “ The work-hours are fourteen per day, winter and summer—from six in the morning till eight at night—little children and all. And they walk to and from the pigsties which they inhabit—four miles each way, through mud and slush, rain, snow, sleet, and storm, daily, year in and year out. They get four hours of sleep. They kennel together, three families in a room, in unimaginable filth and stench; and disease comes, and they die off like flies. Have they committed a crime, these mangy things? No. What have they done, that they are punished so? Nothing at all, except getting themselves born into your foolish race.” (Twain). Showing that people will make themselves superior and others not, even though they have no control of the situations that they were born into and get treated in such ways regardless.
As it can be seen morality has remained one thing that is there throughout the years, but based on social influence and a person’s motive to make themselves look superior or not, can change the way morality is viewed. Though it might be said that morality can’t be changed due to peers or people don’t make themselves superior, it is seen that peers can change our decisions for fear of being shown as the minority in a group. It was also shown that morality can be swayed by how we view others compared to ourselves and based off of that we make decisions.
Mark Twain at Home: How Family Shaped Twain’s Fiction
In this book, Michael Kiskis offers an alternative interpretation of Mark Twain’s major fiction: not as realism, local color, or southwestern humor but as domestic novels, or more especially as satires of domestic novels. Whereas authors of domestic melodrama valorized the family and featured noble spouses and/ or parents, Twain repeatedly challenged that tradition by portraying characters guilty of domestic violence, sentimental foolishness, and even infidelity.
Each of the protagonists of Clemens’ major fictions— Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Jim, Tom Canty, Edward VI, Hank Morgan, Roxy, Valet de Chambre, and Tom Driscoll—is shaped by his or her domestic situation, and each, as a result of a broken family and the emotional constriction caused by that loss, suffers a lack of genuine attachment. The author identifies and explores their most basic similarities: the problem of home, the notion of filial relationship, the quest for comfort and family. In essence, “Tom Sawyer”, “The Prince and the Pauper”, and “Huckleberry Finn” tell one story—a story that follows a child through a maze of biological and social relationships in a quest for physical comfort and existential peace and calm.
The author notes the absent father in many of Clemens’ tales and points to the death of John Marshall Clemens, in 1847, as an emotional focal point in Clemens’ fiction. Clemens’ father was reserved and emotionally distant from his family, and that, combined with his early death, which plunged the family into an financial crisis, created in Sam an emptiness that became manifest in his fiction. The offspring of a loveless marriage, the child who became Mark Twain lived in a home over which the spectre of violence continually hovered.
Twain wrote so frequently about children forced to live on the margins, about children who, missing one or both parents, strive to make some life for themselves in the face of a hostile world. Clemens wrote fiction that demanded that readers consider the plight of his child characters and, therefore, the plight of children facing down an antagonistic world. As a father, Clemens could not help but wonder what the world would offer his daughters. Clemens’ social critique was energized with the hope that telling a story could influence readers to act for good and moral purpose.
Essay of The adventure of Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer lived with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother, Sid. Tom dirties his clothes in a fight and is made to whitewash the fence the next day, as a punishment. He cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work. He trades the treasures for Sunday School tickets which one normally receives for memorizing scriptures, redeeming them for a bible, much to the surprise and bewilderment of the superintendent who thought “it was simply preposterous that this boy had warehoused two thousand sheaves of Scriptural wisdom on his premises—a dozen would strain his capacity, without a doubt”. Tom falls in love with Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town, and persuades her to get “engaged” by kissing him.
But their romance collapses when she learns Tom has been “engaged” previously, to a girl named Amy Lawrence. Shortly after being shunned by Becky, Tom accompanies Huckleberry Finn to the graveyard at night, where they witness the murder of Dr. Robinson. Tom, Huck, and Joe Harper run away to an island. While enjoying their new-found freedom, the boys become aware that the community is sounding the river for their bodies.
Tom sneaks back home one night to observe the commotion. After a brief moment of remorse at his loved ones’ suffering, Tom is struck by the idea of appearing at his own funeral. Back in school, Tom gets himself back in Becky’s favor after he nobly accepts the blame for a book she has ripped. Soon, Muff Potter’s trial begins, in which Tom testifies against Injun Joe. Potter is acquitted, but Injun Joe flees the courtroom through a window. Tom then begins to fear for his life as Injun Joe is at large and can easily find him. Summer arrives, and Tom and Huck go hunting for buried treasure in a haunted house. After venturing upstairs, they hear a noise below.
Peering through holes in the floor, they see Injun Joe disguised as a deaf-mute Spaniard; Injun Joe and his companion plan to bury some stolen treasure of their own. From their hiding spot, Tom and Huck wriggle with delight at the prospect of digging it up. Huck begins to shadow Injun Joe nightly, watching for an opportunity to nab the gold. Meanwhile, Tom goes on a picnic to McDougal’s Cave with Becky and their classmates. In his overconfidence, Tom strays off the marked paths with Becky and they get hopelessly lost. That same night, Huck sees Injun Joe and his partner making off with a box. He follows and overhears their plans to attack the Widow Douglas. By running to fetch help, Huck prevents the crime and becomes an anonymous hero. As Tom and Becky wander the extensive cave complex for the next few days, Tom one day accidentally encounters Injun Joe, although the boy is not seen by his nemesis. Eventually, he finds a way out, and the two children are joyfully welcomed back by their community.
As a preventive measure, Judge Thatcher has McDougal’s Cave sealed off, but this traps Injun Joe inside. When Tom hears of the sealing several days later and directs a posse to the cave, they find the corpse of Joe just inside the sealed entrance, starved to death. A week later, having deduced on Injun Joe’s presence at McDougal’s Cave that the villain must have hidden the stolen gold inside, Tom takes Huck to the cave and they find the box of gold, the proceeds of which are invested for them. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck, and, when Huck attempts to escape civilized life, Tom tricks him into thinking if Huck returns to the widow, he can join Tom’s robber band. Reluctantly, Huck agrees and goes back to the Widow Douglas.
Mark Twain: The Five Boons Of Life
Mark Twain’s, “The Five Boons of Life” is a very interesting short story in which life gifts are offered to a man, describing the effects each choice has on his life and where those choices led the man. I was intrigued by how often the fairy warned the man to choose wisely and the description of her reaction after the man chose a gift. I also found the results from each gift interesting. The man chose pleasure and ended up being disappointed and empty. The man then chose love, again being left with nothing after his wife died. After choosing fame, the man had years when he was praised, envied and hated and then was slandered, mocked and left with nothing. The gift of wealth had the opposite effect after a few years, landing him in poverty. When the fairy returned, she brought with her the four gifts of pleasure, love, fame and wealth but no longer had the fifth gift to offer, which she had expressed all along as the one with the most value. The gift had been given to a child who asked the fairy to choose the best gift for it. Now the man would have to remain in his state with nothing and no one to show for himself and the years he lived, until he eventually died. Death wasn’t an option or answer to his wishes.
“The Five Boons of Life” was written by Mark Twain during the Realism period. Realism coincided with the Romantic period. Realism, however, rejected idealism and focused on solving real life problems; focusing on real people and their everyday lives dealing with poverty, hunger, violence and other difficult topics. Other core issues in that time period included growth of an empire, industrialization and urbanization. Realism is often considered a revolutionary movement where ordinary people and simplistic views were represented, which were often products of everyday life experiences and senses. Charles Darwin and his theories on evolution and organic species helped fuel the shift in thinking from faith based to scientific proof. Mark Twain focused on rich vs poor, wealth vs poverty, love vs solidarity. Each gift the man in the short story was given had the adverse effect on him in the end. Each gift offered instant gratification and the feeling of power, joy, and excitement. And each gift left the man wanting more. During the period of Realism, authors such as Mark Twain, focused their writing on how real people were affected by the social, economic, technological and political changes that were rapidly effecting the world they knew at the time. Mark Twain was no stranger to the hard times of life. Early in his life he lost his father, had to leave school and start working. While he grew to love working on steamboats on the Mississippi, when the Civil War started, he found himself traveling west to attempt mining. All the while, writing about his experiences and his view of the world.
Mark Twain married, fathered four children, three of which died. He, his wife and only living daughter traveled and met many influential people of this time period. He needed to go on lecturing tours due to debts he had accrued. He was given honorary degrees from Ivy League colleges, invited to speak to the president of the USA and Congress. He worked with other authors and continued to grow in popularity. He knew the ups and downs of life, the losses and gains. Through it all he retained his sense of humor, also being known as “the voice of a spirited and diverse nation”. Twain remains a popular author with today’s readers because his work is on a human level. He speaks to ideas and feelings everyone can relate to at some point in their life. He writes about human issues such as death, slavery, rebuilding a life. The struggle between wealth and poverty, fame and being alone, pleasure and wasting of years of life are all things people can relate to today and some struggle with.
The information I gained from researching Mark Twain only validates the initial thoughts I had on “The Five Boons of Life”. Those living during the Realism period faced trials due to changes in social, economic, technology and politics. The focus from writers at this time was to portray people as they were, not glamorizing or belittling the issues at hand. “The Five Boons of Life” portrays the give and take of life. It shows man as wanting and desiring things we don’t have and once granted those desires ending up still feeling empty. This story also shows that man will disregard warnings and advice for what we think is best for our situation and that often we won’t stop to ask what others think is best for us. The fairy offered many warnings to the man about choosing wisely and had expressions of disapproval when the man chose incorrectly. The man was focused on himself and not the advice from the gift giver. Selfishness, desires to get ahead, be the best, have the best are still issues facing man today. People choose riches and power over simply living and making due with the day of life they were given. While Mark Twain may have written this short story hundreds of years ago, the core concepts still ring with truth for today’s society. If only they choose to listen.
Huck’S Moral Development In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain
The human mind and its complexity has bemused the scientific community. The desire to seek knowledge through experience still challenges the minds of many, however, Thomas C. Foster exemplifies this by labeling it as the “real reason for a quest.” As the understanding of the human mind expands, there becomes a clear distinction of the contributed factors that lead to decisions being made and the formation of moral stances based off of them. In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck Finn is a questor that transforms and changes his moral stances as the novel develops. Mark Twain conveys the emotional strain that is placed on Huck from the start of the novel. Being in a complex relationship with his abusive father, Huck decides he wants to escape and embark on a quest. In reality his journey signified something much more; its surface value met the criteria of Foster’s components for a quest. Achieving freedom from his abusive father, he found a place to go, a stated reason to go there, and faced trials and challenges along the way. On a psychological level, Huck’s trauma, from his abusive father, can be viewed through the mentality or lens of negative feedback mechanisms. A young child’s mental state can change from being brutally beaten, leading to severe altercations in decision making. These life altering events include moral decisions that are made by Huck as the novel unfolds. The struggle between pleasing society and valuing Jim’s friendship creates a divide between what is morally right to him and what society wants him to think is morally right. Huck’s decisions open his eyes to the normativity of racism in society. However, he decides to persevere these societal views by freeing Jim. Through saving Jim, he not only proves to society that they are blinded by racism, but rather that he has risen above the discrimination that was present. More importantly, this moral conflict creates a change in his development as a protagonist.
Huck’s moral development had an impact on his perception of the world and his moral growth as a character. His inner and outer factors played significant roles in creating the child that left his father to the man that stood up to society. Nature also played a role in influencing Huck’s decisions and moral stand points. The river introduced him to harmony, stability, and friendship creating the message of what Huck’s life was based off of. In addition, the contrast in society’s rhetoric created a division that helped shape Huck as a character. The overall reason for the quest shows Huck’s ability of getting away from conventions and prejudice without compromise, but rather developing his moral standpoint along on the way.
Mark Twain proves that in society, despite the natural assumptions that all is lost, there is a fragile young boy that will grow into a man that questions society as a whole. As humans continue to discover the intricacies of the human mind in its imperative, they come to a realization as a society that the decisions we make will define us as moral beings. Individuals make decisions that define who they are on a moral spectrum of conceptual thought. Huck represents this idea of stepping up to society, no matter what it is he deems morally right.
The Use Of N-word: Controversy In “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”
Throughout the centuries aggressions against minority groups and the condonation that goes with these hateful acts has been one of the biggest controversies being faced around the world, and Huck Finn is no exception. It’s not shocking to believe that 126 years since the American classic has been published that the novel is still a huge controversy. Since the day The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain hit the shelves it has caused tension between people of different beliefs and understandings of the racial correlation twain presents in the novel including the use of the word, nigger.
Since the novel is supposedly one of greatest pieces of American literature it must seem vital to have it be taught in schools. A report conducted in 1992 showed that 70 percent of all public school students, and 76 percent of all religious school students, studied the novel in school. And still today the book gets assigned but more often than it should it’s a modified version of the original text in order for students to feel ‘more comfortable’. By removing nigger from it the novel loses a certain quality to it; its wildness and edginess, and a chunk of the real message it is trying to convey. The strong language used in the novel unquestionably serves a purpose because it’s supposed to showcase Huck’s lifestyle, and realistically in Huck’s world, “nigger” wouldn’t be censored out. More recently than ever there has been a call to censor the novel for schools and to alter the text completely for people outside of schools. A publishing company in Alabama says that schools don’t have to change their reading list because they changed Huckleberry Finn. Their newly released edition removes the N-word and replaces it with “slave.” Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books states “I think it says that race continues to be a volatile and divisive subject.” ‘’Slave is a condition. I mean, anybody can be a slave. And it’s nothing for anybody to be ashamed of. But ‘nigger’ has to do with shame. ‘Nigger’ has to do with calling somebody something. ‘Nigger’ was what made slavery possible”. Others argue something different though.
Author David Bradley who is a professor at the University of Oregon says that the key to understanding Huckleberry Finn is through Twain’s language, as the relationship between Huck and Jim grows. What needs to be understood is that The word “nigger” is not a hurtful word. It is how it is being used in context and who is saying it that makes it hurtful. This novel takes place before the civil war when it was socially acceptable to say nigger, and that’s the problem. People can’t escape from our modern day world and see this story from a different perspective. A white male according to history wouldn’t realistically replace nigger with a slave. When you censor out nigger, you lose the reality of that word replace it with ‘slave’. The language in the novel is the language that was used in this time period. We as a whole can’t deny the terrible past by pretending it didn’t exist.
Throughout the novel, Twain uses the N-word 219 times. To some people, the word gets in the way of the story’s message against slavery, but to others, Twain is simply capturing the way people talked back then; which is the direction most people believed he was going in. As an author, he has a responsibility to make an audience feel an arrange of emotions when reading his work, and that’s exactly what he does. He also had the responsibility to let go of some of his own personal bias to really commit to the story even though it is fiction. Twain grew up in a slave state and therefore witnessed it first hand, but personally did not believe in slavery, and didn’t own any when he was older. So even though Twain did not believe in slavery he still had characters in the novel who did believe in it, because he knew historically speaking, people in Huck’s world wouldn’t be against slavery even though personally Twain would want it that way. Twain was no doubt a brilliant man and he knew if a white southern male back then had the option to either say slave or nigger he would say, nigger.
Not only did Twain use this word choice for historical reasons he also picked it because he knew the effect it would have on the readers. Twain tries to embed the n-word in every chapter to really get that effect across to the readers like in chapter 14, “well he was right; he was almost right; he had an uncommon head for a nigger” (Twain, chapter 14). Historically Huck wouldn’t replace nigger with a slave. In the quote, Huck doesn’t say “nigger” to offend Jim, he says it because he doesn’t know any better; it was accepted by society and it was how he was raised. Eleventh-grader Joseph Jaurdio explains it perfectly, “If you replace that with the word slave, of course, people would be less bothered, but I think Twain wants people to be a little bit bothered,”. Twain’s word choice conveys a message and is in there for a reason. Although there is clear-cut evidence that goes towards keeping the “nigger” in the novel, some people still can’t seem to see where everyone else is coming from.
The Alabama school’s principal where they have censored “nigger” from the novel said that it was “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive…we’ve gone from being challenged to being offended.” Which can be respected but at the same time what’s wrong with feeling challenged? Parents, teachers, and students are confusing being offended and being challenged. Not only does the book have “nigger” in it but it has a lot of misspelled words on purpose which can make it a challenging read, with challenging content in it besides the word choice. Some scenes like when Huck’s father is being abusive towards him, that could easily make people feel uncomfortable but nor offended. People blame the reason they’re uncomfortable on the language in the book because it’s easy to blame it. “I smiled because like I just kind of think that constant use (of) the N-word, and to me, it feels unnecessary…It reflects on African-American history back then. And like I said, it’s a history that nobody wants to relive,” the principal said. Although it’s understandable to see how the constant use of “nigger” in the novel can lose its effect after a while and then it’s just there for the fun of it, but that’s completely untrue. It is supposed to have an impact on the readers, and it clearly does have an impact or else there wouldn’t be a debate going on about it. Yes, the principal is right, it does represent African-American history back then, but it’s a history that can’t be rewritten or forgotten.
The fact that schools around the country are censoring Huck Finn is disrespectful towards all the history that is backing it up and it’s disrespecting the author. The word is there for a purpose: to represent the time period’s history and culture. Even though what is socially accepted is different today than back then doesn’t mean we ignore it, it means we learn to respect it.
Tom’s Change Of Mindset About Stealing In In The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain
In this novel Mark Twain shows how this young boy named Tom acts as he progresses through childhood. He lives with an aunt named Aunt Polly who is a very strict person. When Tom does things that he should not do she punishes him. Even when he knows that he is wrong and should not be stealing he still does it anyway. He knows what not to do because they are also religious. They go to church almost every Sunday but Tom hates it and thinks that the sermons are boring. After a while adulthood starts to come in and he starts calming down and he does not do the things he used to do. He starts to realize different things and he starts maturing more into a different Tom. The different Tom is better because he obeys, he stopped stealing, he was not as lazy as he used to be so the different Tom was a better Tom. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain shows the coming of age and how the typical American boy progressed through childhood.
In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom shows how some young kids like him are very rebellious and disobedient. In the beginning of the novel Tom is stealing jam out of the pantry when his Aunt Polly finds him. When Aunt Polly finds him before she can do anything he tricks her into turning the other way, and when she turns the other way he hops over the fence and runs before getting a punishment. In another incident Tom is asked questions by his Aunt Polly because she feels like he did not go to school that day, but little does she know that while she is asking him questions he is stealing sugar. His brother Sid sees him stealing sugar and tells on him but Tom is quick enough to leave the house before he gets a punishment once again. While he left the house he seen this boy on the streets so troublesome Tom decided to start arguing with this boy and then they start fighting over nothing. When he decided to go to his crush house and he got water poured on him he threw a rock at the window and broke it and snuck back in the house. Some children change their attitudes if they go to church or have a role model in their life. Tom goes to church and Sunday School but he thinks that is is very boring and really does not pay attention to what Mr. Walters is saying.
In the story Aunt Polly shows how she disciplines rebellious, disobedient kids like Tom. When he did bad things sometimes she would make him do house work or what she thought was a good punishment for him. In the beginning of the story Tom was stealing jam and she tried to beat him but he tricked her into not beating him. She tries to give him other types of punishment instead of beating him all the time. Tom was stealing sugar at the dinner table and left the house before he got a punishment so when he tried to sneak back in his Aunt Polly told him to whitewash the fence. When Sid tried to steal sugar Aunt Polly blamed it on Tom and beat him even when he did not do it. That really hurt Tom because he got blamed for something he did not even do. And she did not even apologize to him after she found out Sid did it. After this happens Tom feels very sad and wonders what she would do and say to him if he was to just die. Tom says, “How she would throw herself upon him, and how her tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray to God to give her back her boy and she would never, never abuse him any more”! After a while she started slacking up on how she disciplined him. Once he went on that pirate adventure with his friends and did not tell her and they thought they were dead she starts to realize that she should not have treated him the way she did. Aunt Polly says, “He warn’t bad, so to say only micheevous. Only just giddy, and harum scarum, you know. He warn’t any more responsible than a colt. He never meant any harm, and he was the best hearted boy that ever was”. When she found out about Tom’s trick she felt like it was cool but she also was disappointed because he did not tell her that it was just fun and games. Aunt Polly got angry because she was made foolish because Joe Harper had already told his mom about Tom’s trick. Even when Tom said he did not think they knew, Aunt Polly could not believe him because she can not trust him anymore even if she tried.
At the ending of the novel Tom begins to grow up. He is not the same boy as he was in the beginning of the novel. Even though he might still play a lot and have some childish ways some things he stopped doing for the better. He was not the same Tom that did not do his chores, or the one that stole things, or the one that was lazy he was a more mature Tom. The adult in Tom came out when he went back to Aunt Polly’s house and considered to leave her a note to tell her that he was okay even though he did not do that. Tom even stopped stealing because at first he always felt like he had to steal things. For example he had stole sugar from the dinner table and also jam from the pantry and always got caught. When he went on the pirate adventure with his friends they stole many different things. When Tom and his friends first met up they each had stolen supplies such as boiled ham, a few trifles, skillet, half cured leaf tobacco, and other supplies. They even stole a raft just so they could get to the journey they was destined to get to. They even pretended to be Indians and decided to smoke a pipe. Before they went to sleep they prayed and they got scared that lightning would come down and strike them because of all the bad things they are doing. When they prayed they promised to not steal as pirates ever again because they knew what they were doing was very wrong and that the bible does not command of that. This is the start of the reason why Tom stopped stealing because they promised not to steal as pirates. Once you get into a habit of doing something you continue to do the same thing over and over so if he did not steal for a long time most likely the outcome after the adventure was going to be him not stealing anymore. He started maturing as an adult and growing up when he witnessed the murder of Dr. Robinson. TOm got put into a situation that he really did not understand as a boy but he understands when he starts maturing. With all the lies he has ever told once he got into the mature stage everything changed he could not keep silent about the murder and he told the truth about everything. He did not think about himself anymore and he did what was right so when the Widow needed to be saved he goes and help save the Widow.
Tom really sets a good example for people like him that starts out pretty rough but starts seeing things different. Some kids are “bad” but all you need is something to turn your life around or somebody to come in your life and teach you certain things other people could not teach you. Aunt Polly could not teach Tom how to start being mature and act like an adult as he got older he had to get into certain situations to where he had to make adult decisions. Beatings are not always the answer if a kid does something wrong because then kids like Tom start to wonder how their guardian would feel if they was to die or run away. You should also take time and talk with your kids to see why they are acting the way they are and maybe that will stop bad behavior. When you start doing things over and over it is a habit so if you steal and you promise not to steal and you do not steal every day you most likely will not steal again if it is a habit. In the story it shows how Tom stole everything he could get his hands on if he wanted something he stole it. As time progressed it took that one situation such as the adventure they went on to change his mindset about stealing since he did not steal again. People always need second chances to prove themselves even if you feel like they do not need a second chance. They can always change and make you realize they are not the same person they used to be.