The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Although Huck is white, he is poor, which makes him out of touch with civilized society, and although the Widow Douglas attempts to “sivilize” Huck by giving him the schooling and religious training he has missed, he resists her attempts and maintains his independent ways. He has not been indoctrinated with social values like a middle-class boy like Tom Sawyer has been. Huck’s distance from civilized society makes him skeptical of the world around him and the ideas it passes on to him. He has more practical values than the members of the middle class; for example, he doesn’t care about the Widow’s story about Moses because he “don’t take no stock in dead people” (2). Huck distrusts and questions the things society has taught him. For example, according to the law, Jim is Miss Watson’s property, but according to Huck’s sense of logic and fairness, it seems “right” to help Jim. He draws his own conclusions that would shock white society: Huck discovers, when he and Jim meet a group of slave-hunters, that telling a lie is sometimes the right course of action.
Huck is willing and eager to question the “facts” of life and of human personality, such as the tendency to lie. Though Huck always remains open to learning, he never accepts new ideas without thinking. He is skeptical of social doctrines like religion and willing to set forth new ideas. For example, he doesn’t “see no advantage” in going to heaven with Miss Watson, especially since he wants to stay with Tom Sawyer (3). Huck speaks in simple terms but is intelligent enough to question society’s value of religious ideas and follow his own heart; he values his friend over a biblical standard of the afterlife.
However, Huck is inevitably tainted by the Southern white conception of the world. He genuinely struggles with the question of whether or not to turn over Jim to the white men who ask if he is harboring any runaway slaves. In some sense, Huck still believes that turning Jim in would be the “right” thing to do, and he struggles with the idea that Miss Watson is a slave owner yet still seems to be a “good” person. As he spends more time with Jim, Huck is forced to question the facts that white society has taught him and that he has taken for granted. He realizes that he would have felt worse for doing the “right” thing and turning Jim in than he does for not turning Jim in. When Huck reaches this realization, he makes a decision to reject conventional morality in favor of what his conscience dictates. This decision represents a big step in Huck’s development, as he realizes that his conscience may be a better guide than the dictates of the white society in which he has been raised.
As a narrator, Huck views his surroundings logically and pragmatically. His observations are not filled with judgments; instead, Huck observes his environment and gives realistic descriptions of the Mississippi River and southern culture. Huck simply accepts, at face value, the social and religious tenets pressed upon him by Miss Watson until his experiences cause him to make decisions in which his learned values and his natural feelings come in conflict. When Huck is unable to conform to the rules, he assumes that it is his own deficiency, not the rule, that is bad. He observes Pap saying he’ll never vote again because a black man was allowed to, but Huck but does not condemn this because it is the “accepted” view in his world. Huck simply reports what he sees, and this narration allows Twain to depict a realistic view of common ignorance, slavery, and the inhumanity that follows.
Discussion On Whether Huck Finn Should Be Banned
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a controversial topic in today’s school system. Vulgar language, rebellion against religion and portal of the south has brought it under scrutiny multiple times. It has been banned from many public libraries and pulled out of schools, curriculums for years however there are still many that believe it should be taught and see the book for the educational purpose it provides readers. It reveals historic description of the time that should be opened up, discussed, and taught in today’s schools.
Huck Finn’s use of “nigger” directed towards African Americans has brought controversy to society since 1883 when it was published. The use of the N word appears over 200 times throughout the novel. “Nigger” is a very foul word that for many means a hard time in history that a minority group was oppressed and treated inhumanely. Mark Twain used the word was to bring power to themes of racism and slavery.” In today’s society the word in that context has no place in a book that uses it in a manner such as Huck Finn. However back in the 1880 that was normal in society and the word did not have the power it does today. It has been said that Huck Finn’s excessive use of racial slurs are voiding the book of its true substance and implanting the word in today’s youth vocabulary. If Twain’s classic Huck Finn is banned because racist remarks and descriptions for a runaway slave should books about civil war, the Mexican war, and post-civil war era topics also be banned? If this was true the education system would have to completely wipe out American history.
“Here was a free nigger there from Ohio — a mulatter… and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane — the awful- est old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p’fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain’t the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was ‘lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn’t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they’d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin”. Without the use of “nigger” you would not understand paps hatred towards the African American that is ironically better set than pap. The reader may look at this as pap just venting because of African American man, which at the time was out of the norm, and not see that pap is actually a very racist, hateful man.
However for some people Huck Finn could be seen as extremely offensive to African-Americans, as it uses rude and aggravating racial slurs. It could also stir up depressing feelings of the times when blacks were enslaved and treated inhumanely. It could also be seen as encouraging ideas of defying rules of society, lying and stealing to others.
The Reasons Why Huckleberry Finn Should not Be Banned from Schools
Should Huckleberry Finn be banned? This is a question that has been widely argued over for years and years and is still continued to be a major argument today. Many argue that the book should be banned from schools because of the racial statements in the book and that it could offend or become bothersome to students. All the book does is remind the students of the history of slavery and that slavery existed. “The n-word” is used many times in this book and people in today’s day and age are hurt and offended by such a word. Back when the book was written “the n-word” was used widely and used by most white people. The writer could not foresee the future and would have not known that writing these words would have such an impact.
This book should be allowed because it not only is a part of history, but teaches about racial times and what it was really like back in the day. It gives a sense of how the different states, North and South, were like. It showed how to a young boy like Huck Finn saw how the times were through his eyes. While reading we are getting the honest truth on how everything was back than cause we are getting information from a kind of innocent boy that is not afraid to say what’s on his mind. So we get the honest truth of what it was like back then. Another example of why that this book should be allowed is the friendship that arises with a white little boy, Huck Finn, and a black slave named Jim. Along the books journey Huck Finn becomes friendly with the slave Jim and realizes that the slave Jim has feelings just like him. That slave Jim is not any different because of his skin color.
Huck starts to see slave Jim in another way and not so much as a slave. When Huck and Jim were in the raft, Huck hears crying which is coming from Jim. Jim was crying just thinking about his family and Huck thinks to himself, “….And I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n.” Huck starts to believe in Jim less than a slave but as a human being with feelings. This adventurous book shows many aspects of history. It shows how the times were and history of the South as written by Mark Twain. You cannot just erase history and make it go away. Children need to know about the past and the struggle to make a better future. This book will help teach all the grade level kids the history and the feelings of people of the time.
Why The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Should Not Be Banned
Humans live in a world where you are stereotyped just by the way you walk. Humans live in a world where you are silenced by having opinions. Humans live in a world where you are called names because of your skin color. Humans live in a world where society follows what the leader does. In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain puts our world to shame with his brilliant mind. He judges the world with fat mouth full of satire and irony. Twain juggles society’s thoughts with characterization and the past. Worst of all, he ends our fairytale with reality and facts. Writers and journalist galore have tried to end this wakeup call and demise recognizing the real problems happening in the world. Not realizing the consequences to this act can separate races over only banning the book because of the n-word. It will not be able to show the importance of not using the terms and ideas brought out in the novel and also shed light on the stereotypes Twain brings out using his black characters. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be banned. To begin with, banning the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, separates whites and blacks by using the n-word as the reason for prohibiting the book. William Raspberry, an African-American journalist feels the same in this concept by saying, “N-word. The word almost as magical in its negative power. Books- good books- have been banned because of its use. Race relations have been shattered, friendships broken and credibility destroyed by its mere utterness.” The n-word has obviously had some very bad effects in society and to African Americans feeling of self-worth. Prohibiting the book gives this word tremendous amounts of power that we all so desperately do not want it to have. Furthermore, banning the book because of its past gives off the idea that all different types of races are very separate and different. It is important to celebrate culture, but not with the idea that we all are ranked and do not have equality. Besides the fact that the whole point of the novel is to show how horrible stereotypes and the treatment of African Americans was, even reducing the amount of times the racial slur is uses can potentially create the idea that humanity must all hate each other’s ancestors for what happened back then. To briefly conclude, the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be banned only due to the use of the n-word.
Secondly, the horrendous terms and stereotypes of society used in Huck Finn emphasizes the importance of not believing the ideas that white characters show in the book and illustrate in real life. An excerpt from the passage, Race and Adventures in Huckleberry Finn, helps reveal the true meaning behind Twain’s writing and intention. It states, “They also seek to show that Jim’s humanity is far greater than his caricature as a minstrel figure, that his innocence is uses to poke fun at whites and show the falsity of stereotypes. Finally, the ending merely shows the power of society and Tom Sawyer to dehumanize Jim, which actually motivates Huck to leave civilization altogether.” This conveys how Twain uses his writing to show important issues. The reason why Twain uses such language, terms, dialects, and stereotypes is because he wants the world to have a better viewpoint and the only way he could do that in such a time period as the 1800’s was to camouflage that with the social norms. In addition, Twain not only shows the disgusting stereotypes of blacks, but also the white society’s ideas. He mostly shows this when Huck meets the Grangerfords, Shepherdsons, and the Duke and Dauphin. He reveals the hypocrisy of whites during the time, but emphasizes it through humor. On the whole, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn speaks against our racial past through terms, dialect, and stereotyping. Not for it.
Lastly, some people agree that Jim’s characterization makes fun of black people and is extremely degrading to all of the African American race. Julius Lester, a professor at at the University of Massachusetts believes this by saying, “Jim does not exist with integrity of his own. He is a childlike person, who in attitude and character, is more like one of the boys in Tom Sawyer’s gang than a grown man with a wife and children…” Although Jim’s character is made in a way that seems very immature for his age and his situation, this is exactly what Twain intended. Jim’s character is used to show the stereotype of black people being thought of as dumb and unintelligent. Yet, Jim is still found to be am almost heroic character and beloved in our hearts. Kenney J. Williams, professor at Duke University states, “At the end of the novel, when he could have saved himself from discovery, he comes out of hiding with the full knowledge that he is jeopardizing his freedom…Jim displays an affirmation of life that goes beyond the ignoble laws created to enslave. No matter how foolish Jim may appear, and despite the number of times he is called “n-word,” in the final analysis he cannot be burlesqued.” Throughout the novel, Jim continues to show his bravery and pride of being who he is. He shares information about himself with a 14 year old white boy who can potentially turn him in for being a runaway slave. Even though this is a huge danger to Jim, he still travels along on the ride of life with Huck Finn. Also, Jim uses his bravery to protect his friends at all cost even when his own life is in danger. To summarize, Jim gives pride to African Americans in the novel because of his heroism.
To conclude, Mark Twain stands up to the horrendous past and current society of our world through facts and irony. Given all these important thoughts, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should not be banned. He conveys his issues with the view of the world on African Americans through the use of the n-word and words much like it, preventing a feeling of dividation within races. Twain captures racist ideas by emphasizing the importance of not using such terms and ideas against African Americans. Also, characterization in the story shows through stereotypes and thoughts of society. Overall, the book can cause a bit of confusion, but when people put their mind to it, there is no better book to tell them straight up facts about our society.
The Question Of Whether Huck Finn Should Be Banned In The United States
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, also known as the “Great American Novel”, has sold over 20 Million copies, it has been translated in over 53 languages and it hasn’t gone out of print since 1885, when it was first published. Huck Finn is known by almost everyone. It is one of the most popular novels in the world. So how can it be the sixth most frequently banned book in the United States?
Although Huck Finn is known as a classic piece of literature it has been deemed as offensive to many people. Mark Twain is known for speaking on problems in society through his art of writing. The book is known for representing the times of pre-Civil war slavery and racism in American. Throughout the novel Mark Twain uses racial slurs 219 times. While many say that the word is offensive – which it is, many say that the word is what helps people understand what the times were like Pre Civil War era and the racism in America. Many schools, including recently some Virginia school districts, have banned the novel along with another classic which also talks about racism in America – To Kill A Mockingbird. The schools have claimed that the use of the derogatory word so often in the book has made some students, including parents uncomfortable. Although the book does make some uncomfortable it should, these books talk about the unjust racism in America, the novels are history, and although it may be uncomfortable to talk about does not mean is should be avoided, which is what banning the book does. Huck Finn along with other controversial banned books such as To Kill A Mockingbird help to portray the unwritten truth of the time period. In 2011 a new version of Huck Finn came out censoring the use of the racial slurs and replacing it with the word “slave”. The censorship in the new version was in hopes to get the book back into schools since it was widely banned from school libraries and the classroom for the use of the racial slurs. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’Tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain. While the book set place in Pre-Civil war era where slavery had not yet been abolished the use of the slurs were understood. Although we are well past the time of slavery, racism in America very well exists. While you can find this book in bookstores and online you cannot find the book in many classrooms or school libraries.
While the topic of racism can be uncomfortable, it needs to be talked about and these books hit the topic head on. It is important to have these discussions about history to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. While in some cases the use of the racial slurs is not the problem, it is more the use of Twain’s satire that is offensive in some African American institutes. Some think that Mark Twain and his use of satire is making fun of and in a way mocking the very serious topic. Twain has always been prominent on his use of satire to poke fun of the people and their thinking during this time. Throughout the book Twain uses satire to mock the thinking of society at this time and to show how cruel man can be to man. In conclusion Huck Finn is a piece of history written to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. The only way we can make sure of that is to correctly educate people on history. The use of the offensive racial slurs is to try and teach people that these derogatory words are not condoned and should not be used.
How Mark Twain Has Portrayed Huckleberry as a Picaresque Hero
Picaresque — what a scary word. What can it mean? By definition, the word picaresque is an adjective, which describe a genre of prose fiction that depicts in realistic, often amusing detail about the adventures of a roguish hero of low social degree living by his or her wits in a lower class society. Within these novels, a picaresque hero is often a pragmatist that undergoes little or no psychological changes (Websters 449). But, in order to fully understand this definition one must be familiarized with a roguish hero. A roguish hero is a deceitful, undisciplined, playful, and mischievous character. After understanding these definitions it can bee seen that Huck Finn from Mark Twains novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a picaresque hero. The novel is told through Huckleberry Finns point of view and in his dialect. This gives the story a somewhat humorous tone, and inside look into Hucks mind. He is not educated very much and is from a lower class. Other examples of how he meets the criteria of a picaresque character is that he uses his own common sense while on his adventure, displays numerous dishonest actions, and by the conclusion of the story it is obvious that he has experienced few psychological changes.
Throughout his adventure, Huck uses his own wit and common sense to get him through each day. For example, the very beginning of his adventure starts with Hucks personal tactics. He faked his own death by killing a pig and using its blood to make it seem like his own, smashed the door in with an axe and left a trail like a dead body had been dragged into the river (Twain 39-41). By doing this, he was successful at tricking all the town people into thinking that he had been murdered. These actions were not a set out plan for him; he used his own common sense and plotted his own death. Another portrayal of the way Huck uses his wit is when he was hiding in the trees, and used a stick in order to get the bread from the river (46-47). Jim, who was also hiding at the time, did not get bread because he feared being seen (54). But, Hucks common sense allowed him to get the bread. Another illustration of his own use of reasoning is when he gets lost in the storm. Although he is scared because he cannot see through the fog and there are many snags, by morning he makes it safely out (100-102). These examples show how Huck meets the criteria of a picaresque character by using his own wit.
Another characteristic of a picaresque character is one that uses dishonest actions. This can be seen in Huck several times within the novel. He lies many times in order to get his way. Faking his own death is substantial evidence for this. Also, when he went to St. Petersburg dressed as a girl and spoke with the woman, he lied to her and told her his name is Sara Williams. He tells her that he lives in “Hookerville, seven miles below. Ive walked all the way and Im all tired out,” he says (68). He does this in order to get information on his death and what was going on as a result of it. Huck lies like this in order to get his way several times throughout the novel. Another example of his deceitful manners is when he lies to Jim about the storm. Jim had fallen asleep during the storm, and Huck tells him that it was all a dream (103-102). Huckleberrys untruthful actions fit the categorization of a picaresque hero.
A picaresque character undergoes little or no psychological changes. However, the idea that Huck Finn did not undergo psychological changes is somewhat controversial. One can argue that Huck is not a picaresque hero because he or she believes that Hucks view of colored people had changed. However, this is not the case. From the beginning of the story, Huck displays actions relating to the fact that he is aware that Jim is human. For example, he often speaks with Jim about various topics and respects Jims authority when Jim tells him that his hairball was psychic (21). Throughout the story, he questions the idea of Jims humanity, but by the end he sees Jim as more of a human and not much different that the whites. It is obvious, however, that this doubt of Jims humanity was placed in Hucks mind as a result of societal norms. The society that he lived in was one that degraded colored people through slavery. But, Huck always slightly felt compelled to believe that Jim was human. So, Huck fully realizing that Jim is a human is not much of a change at all. Another debatable issue relating to this topic is the scene where he tells Mary Jane the truth about himself, the King, and the Duke (238-239). It can be argued that, at this point, Huck changed and stopped lying. However, this is not true either. The only reason he told Mary Jane the truth was because he liked her. Also, in the following scenes, Huck goes to Aunt Sallys and pretends to be Tom Sawyer (277). Therefore, he is lying again. Also, it is most probable that Huck will continue being deceitful in his future adventures. One thing that makes it obvious that Huck did not change in the end is the fact that he announces that Aunt Sally wants to adopt him. But, he says that he will continue on his adventures west because he did not like the civilized way of life. The points prove that Huck is picaresque in the sense that he did not undergo many changes psychologically.
The idea of a picaresque hero is a character that is a pragmatist, that uses his own wit, is deceitful, and mischievous, is a very suitable definition of Hucks character. He displays many of these traits throughout the entire story. His street-smart, practical, and dishonest character did not experience many changes by the end. Huckleberry Finn is a picaresque character. He will most likely continue his future adventures in the same roguish manner.
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Los Angeles: University of CaliforniaPress. 2001.Websters Dictionary. New York: Shooting Star Press. 1995.
Tom Sawyer Versus Huckleberry Finn
In the novel Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain portrays the eponymous protagonist as a clever boy who can easily con people. By contrast, the eponymous hero of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an emotionally driven character who follows his inner sense of morality. Mark Twain reintroduces the character of Tom Sawyer in Huckleberry Finn to act as a foil to Huck, and show the importance of thinking with one’s heart as well as one’s head.
Huck, the protagonist of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is established as an emotional, morality driven character. Huck follows his heart, even when it goes against what he has always been taught. Tom Sawyer appears near the end of the novel, and embodies the opposite traits. Tom is clever and bookish, and his actions are not influenced by morality at all. Clearly the two are meant to act as foils. The importance lies in what juxtaposing the two is meant to accomplish. Twain juxtaposes Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to emphasize that thinking with one’s heart is at least as important as thinking with one’s head.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows the story of Huck as he travels down the Mississippi River. From the beginning Huck is driven primarily by emotion. In the very first chapter, Huck mentions that the Widow Douglas took him in and attempted to “sivilise” him (Twain 32). The misspelling on Huck’s part indicated that he rejected civilization and the formal education that comes with it. The action of the story begins because Huck decides to run away from his abusive father based on a primal desire to get away from danger, but without forethought about how best to do that (Twain 58). Huck’s emotional character pays no mind to the danger of sailing down the river, and just does what he feels is best.
Huck also follows his instincts when it comes to morality. Huck makes decisions based on what he believes to be right even when the rules of society wouldn’t agree, best shown when he decides to help Jim. The most important issue of the novel is the perceived morality of slavery. Jim, Huck’s black friend, is a runaway slave, and, according to the law, should be captured and returned. Huck’s decision is whether to follow what society and the law say, or to follow his own sense that slavery is inherently wrong. At this point, Jim has been captured, and will imminently be sold unless someone can rescue him (Twain 202). Since Huck is Jim’s only true friend, that someone must be Huck. The facts laid out before Huck say that he should leave Jim where he is; the law says that an escaped slave should be captured and imprisoned, and it is wrong to help him. Even more importantly, Christianity, as it was taught in slaveholding regions, would forbid freeing Jim in this situation, and religion would commonly be identified synonymously with what is morally correct. In one of the most powerful scenes in the book, Huck wonders if God is going to send him to Hell for helping a black man. Huck decides that, if this is true, then “All right then, I’ll go to Hell!” (Twain 202). This passage is especially important because it proves that Huck’s feelings and his sense of morality are entwined. A sense of morality could be derived from what society says is right, but Huck only cares that Jim is his friend. Huck’s sense of right and wrong comes from what he feels.
Huck’s conviction in doing what is right is demonstrated when he directly works to solve Jim’s problem. Jim has been captured as a runaway slave, and is currently being held in a shed as a prisoner until he can be returned to his owner. Huck’s plan to rescue Jim involves no thoughts of adventure or fun or personal glory (Twain 217). The only priority is getting Jim out of danger, proving Huck’s heartfelt, selfless intentions. It is made obvious to the reader that the plan would have worked perfectly. So, following the plan of the emotionally driven character would have led to a happy ending for the people involved. Then, Tom Sawyer appears and proposes a different plan. By following Tom’s plan, life is worse for everyone involved than if they had listened to Huck’s straightforward plan.
When Tom Sawyer appears in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he is already a known quantity. Huck has mentioned him several times throughout the book but, more importantly, the audience would have known him from the earlier book, Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In it, Tom proves both his cleverness and his unscrupulous nature, most famously through convincing people to paint a fence for him. So, when he shows up in this book, the audience will expect his actions to include various crafty tricks. Judith Fetterly argues that “The desire for glory, the desire to be recognized as inordinately clever, is nothing new to Tom” (Fetterly 72). His brains, and the desire to have people appreciate his intelligence, are the primary motivating force for Tom. Significantly, Tom’s intelligence comes at least in part from books. When his plans are questioned, he replies “Why, hain’t you ever read any books at all?” (Twain 222). Here, Tom aligns himself with the bookish intelligence of society, rather than some natural cunning. In addition to being a character, Tom can be seen as a symbol of intelligence and rational thought.
When Tom arrives in the story, he immediately begins acting as a schemer. His most important plot is helping Jim escape. While Huck’s initial plan would have been successful, Tom is too obsessed with style and glory to care about freeing Jim (Twain 218). At every step of the plan, Tom makes life more difficult for everyone, solely because that’s what his books made him think was the proper way to do things. For example, Tom decides that Jim must be dug out of the shed with knives (226), write a journal, despite being illiterate (224), and tame dangerous wild animals (240). Tom gets many of his ideas from stories, such as when, in relation to writing a message in Jim’s own blood, he says “The Iron Mask always done that, and it’s a blame’ good way, too” (224). None of these things will help Jim reach his goal of freedom. In fact, Jim actively dislikes the business with the snakes and spiders, but Tom ignores him. Tom is so distracted by what books tell him is the proper way to do things that he ignores the human needs of Jim, displaying how his cleverness gives rise to a complete lack of emotional intelligence.
Tom’s lack of morals is especially evident in how he sees himself. Tom is so obsessed with glory and adventure, that he has his own twisted set of morals to rigidly follow. When the decision is made to dig Jim out of the shed with picks, because knives are taking too long, he remarks that “It ain’t right, and it ain’t moral…but there’s only the one way” (Twain 228). Given the end goal of freeing Jim, using picks is the correct thing to do, as it will be faster and more likely to succeed; however, Tom has such strong illusions of grandeur that he values a difficult escape more highly than actually helping someone. His learning from books has left Tom with a twisted, unreasonable sense of morality that is on a totally different axis from what would normally be considered moral.
While Tom is definitely deluded, he is not an immoral character. Even when his actions make Jim uncomfortable, there is no sadism in Tom. James Cox argues that Tom does what he does solely for the sake of adventure (Cox 310). Tom’s book learning has not lead him to be evil; rather it has lead to him being disinterested with morality. Even when he ignores the fact that he is hurting Jim’s chances of freedom, Tom is still trying to get Jim free eventually. Tom’s cleverness leads to him being amoral, not immoral.
Twain believed that learning in schools is not the same as education, and perhaps even that schooling can get in the way of real education. He once wrote: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education” (QuoteDB). The problem with formal schooling is most evident in the character of Tom, who gets all of his ideas from books, and so represents the artificial learning of society.
Another time Twain has talked about intelligence was when he said “The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority over other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot” (QuoteDB). Twain cares about humans knowing right from wrong, and believes that the thinking that humans do can lead them away from doing what is right. This quote is especially interesting when applied to Huck. When Huck decides to free his friend, he actively chooses to do something that he has always been taught is wrong. Huck represents following an inner sense of morality, despite whatever intelligent society might say to the contrary.
Some critics have argued that Tom’s appearance at the end of the novel undermines the message of the book. Critic Leo Marx remarked that “The ending of Huckleberry Finn makes so many readers uneasy because they rightly sense that it jeopardizes the significance of the entire novel” (Marx 292). He feels that Tom’s amoral character works directly against the point made by Huck.
Marx’s belief is misguided. Rather than undermining the significance of Huck in the story, Tom actually emphasizes it. As Janeczko and Matthews mention in their essay on the literary significance of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “Mark Twain brought back Tom at the end of the novel to serve as a foil for Huck; [the readers] saw Huck’s growth and sensitivity to human beings, including Jim, in contrast to Tom’s romantic predictability” (Janeczko and Matthews 42). Without Tom acting as foil, it would not be as obvious to the audience how kindhearted and morally intelligent is to Tom.
Twain puts forth these two opposing forces in order to show the importance of Huck’s way of making decisions. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written after the Civil War had ended, so slavery had been abolished for a significant length of time. When Huck acts to free Jim, the audience knows that Huck has made the morally correct decision, even if Huck does not. Huck can easily be seen as the morally correct character.
The conflict between the social and emotional foundations of morality is present throughout the novel. In chapter 18, Huck gets caught in the conflict between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons. Here, the feud represents the twisted morality of civilized society. The two families are desperately trying to kill each other, but even those participating in it do not really remember why (Twain 144). The families only continue the conflict because someone older than them told them to, as Buck shows when he says “Oh, yes, Pa knows [who started the feud] I reckon” (Twain 144). The contrast between this social morality and emotional morality is shown in the love affair between Miss Sophia and Harney. The two young lovers do not care about feud, and only want to be together. Love is obviously an emotional decision making tool, and so the two are separate from the rest of their families in how they make their decisions. At this point, Huck has not yet decided to follow his heart over social rules, and the book shows this in his indecision. Huck states “I judged I ought to told her father about that paper and the curious way she acted” (Twain 153). By not telling Mr. Grangerford about Miss Sophia, Huck has, at least temporarily, sided with emotional decision making, but his regrets show that he is still not certain of his side in the conflict.
The importance of the contrast with Tom is in showing what part of Huck leads to making these correct decisions. Without Tom, Huck’s goodness could be attributed to his youth, or his willingness to break stupid laws, or his independent attitude. It is only by bringing Tom on stage that we can see Huck’s emotional morality leading to good decisions. Tom shares all the other traits, but is an intellect driven amoral character.
The contrast between emotional and intellectual morality is especially evident in how things go bad when Tom starts making decisions. Huck’s plan to free Jim would have been successful, had not Tom started making things more difficult. This is Twain’s way of forcing the reader to see that deviating from the emotional decisions causes a catastrophe.
Still, Twain is careful not to go too far. He does not want to insinuate that all intelligent thought should be ignored. We can see this in Huck’s reaction to Tom’s foolish plan. Huck states that “I see in a minute that is was worth fifteen of mine, for style… and maybe get us all killed besides” (Twain 218). Even a modicum of rational thought would lead to a protest of this suicidal plan, but Huck merely accedes. Here, Huck makes the emotional choice of going along with whatever his trusted friend Tom wants to do, without considering the consequences. In a reversal of previous ideas, Twain seems to argue that not all decisions can be made purely with emotion.
Twain’s purpose in using Tom, then, is to show that emotions are at least as important as rational thought. Most of the book is spent building up the importance of emotional decision making because that side was the underdog. As Cox mentions, even Huck comes to the decision to help free Jim reluctantly (Cox 309). It is hard to go against all of society in making one’s decisions, so Twain had to spend much more time in establishing that as a good thing to do. Siding with rational thought and the ideals of civilized society is easy, so Twain only needed one event to showcase the possible danger of only making emotional decisions. By showing flaws in both decision making methods, Twain emphasizes that neither works on their own. Rather, human beings need to make decisions both with their heads and their hearts to do what is right.
Comparison Of Realism In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain And The Awakening By Kate Chopin
The jaw dropping book “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, has been described as racist, yet at the same time is believed to be one of the greatest works of American fiction. Throughout the book, readers begin uncovering how a man’s ethics and activities conflict with those of the general public around him.
Twain indicates authenticity in relatively every part of his composition; the depiction of the setting, that of the characters, and even the manner in which characters speak. Through his story, Twain mocks a considerable amount of establishments drawn in society. Demonstrating the pietism of individuals engaged with instruction, religion, and sentimentalism through silly, yet genuine models. In particular, Twain demonstrates the manner in which Huckleberry’s ethical convictions frame in the midst of a period of vulnerability in his life. In addition to the previously stated, allow this to further expand on Twain’s unique writing style; “Well, I RECKON! There’s two-hundred dollars reward on him. It’s like picking up money out’n the road”. This portrays individuals such as Huck and his activities, feelings, surroundings as being the grim truth that all he sees Jim at first as a paycheck and not a human being. Twain produces characters that are not impeccably great or totally shrewd; they display qualities and shortcomings, similarly as genuine individuals. Twain accurately captures characters by dressing them in garments that fit their region and talk with local tongues. In particular, characters are not so much politically correct, but more so exaggerated to fit that of the geographical location that this story was written.
In exposing the personalities of characters, Twain mocks the falseness and deception of specific teachers, religious pioneers, and sentimental people. Twain demonstrates how the characters demonstration before others, and after that uncovers their actual feelings and quirks. The Dauphin and the Duke, for instance, are two characters that Huck meets while exploring with Jim. Upon first glance, the men seem proper, yet they are practically hoodlums. Twain shows us that his characters develop an opinion of their own; “It didn’t take me long to decide that these liars warn’t no lords nor dukes by any stretch of the imagination, yet simply down and out fakes and frauds. Later in the story, Huck comes to the conclusion that the conmen just carry on false plays and make it apparent that they know practically nothing i. e. blending random scenes and lines from totally unique plays.
In comparison, Chopin’s works are similar to Twain’s in that she uses lots of realist elements throughout her stories. She writes in such a way that what matters to her characters seems to raise her reader’s eyebrows and make it matter to them. Allow this realist element given in her works; “there was no despondency when she fell asleep that night;nor was there hope when she awoke in the morning”. Just as Twain engrains realist elements in his works, Chopin gives it to us raw and paints a picture of the uncut and the sometimes grim thing we call reality. This realist element is called reality and it is what most people experience in their lifetime; being depressed or losing hope, just as her character seemed to slowly slip away.
Mark Twain’s works in terms of content are similar to Chopin’s in that both use unusual content for their times. For example, Chopin states “Courageous, ma foi! The brave soul. The soul that dares and defies”. At this time in history, it was common to see a woman suppressed by her husband but uncommon to read about a woman ending up having an affair with another man. She puts a twist on her story that reels her readers in for more just as Twain did by incorporating events that would be seen as outrageous to the social norms of their time. This is similar to the book Huck Finn in that Jim, the slave of the book is tired of being bought and sold and wants a way out, but he sees the river as that way, just as the wife in Chopin’s book saw the affair as the gateway to freedom. At the time of these novels, it was unusual for writers to have such radical content, especially about a woman cheating her husband or possibly a slave being treated as an equal and not just a piece of property. People can say what they want, but so-called controversial stories that are not sugar-coated and are based on actual places and things that do happen, contrary to what politically correct people believe, sell and continue to sell for years. Furthermore, in regards to the attitude of both novels, each yearns to stand out from the norms of writing for their time. Each author wanted to produce a bold statement in regards to social justice for all, especially the ones who are thought to not be equals, such as women and slaves.
The two writers’ works are different in attitude in that Twain seems to question the institution of slavery and develops his characters to question the ethics of if slavery is really morally good. Chopin’s novel “The Awakening” has a differing attitude from Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” in that her story was focused on oppressed women and what steps they had to take to remove themselves, whereas Twain develops multiple characters to challenge multiple controversial issues in their society. When it comes to writing style, the similarities both authors share is the connection of wanting to question societal issues through the literature they produce and the development of the characters within. The writing styles differ between the two in that Twain has a more uncut, uncensored and politically incorrect approach in his style of writing, whether that be using racial slurs to get his readers attention or letting his characters fit the stereotype of simple southern sounding folk. Chopin’s style differed from Twain’s in that she did not attempt near the complexity of which Twain took it to. Chopin played it somewhat safe in that she only wrote about a woman who has an affair with another man, and did not really have main characters or so many other decisions her characters had to face, which for the time was still shocking.
All in all, Twain impacted social issues such as the morality of slavery through his writing by getting his readers aware about it and get a chance to comprehend it through literary devices. Furthermore, Twain was impacted by other writers and social issues and even trends during and before his lifetime because he actually grew up in a small town in Missouri. Even before his lifetime, these issues still burdened society and shaped it before he even picked up his first pencil to write about it. This greatly impacted his writing of Huckleberry Finn because he was familiar with the society around him and perhaps that is why Huckleberry Finn is such a great novel because it accurately depicts the people there and in every aspect of their lives and decision making seems to fit the issues that faced them. During Twain’s lifetime growing up, slavery was much a part of his society and was still seen by many as okay and others not so much okay.
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.
Huckleberry Finn and the American Journey to Equality
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain creates a sense that Huck and Jim grow close and Huck perhaps begins to see Jim not as a slave, but as a human being. In accordance with his reputation for cynicism, though, Twain forgoes the expected ending—which would perhaps include Jim being elevated in the eyes of Huck and others to the status of an actual human being—to a more anticlimactic and problematic ending in which Jim remains a superstitious bumpkin and the people of Pikesville only grant him freedom through a legal technicality. Ultimately, no great moral journey is made to match the great physical journey down the Mississippi River. Subtly, Twain nevertheless inserts hints that in spite of the lack of moral progress that has been made, hope exists for such future progress. With this ending, Twain mimics the state of the nation at the time of the novel’s 1885 publication. Essentially, Twain indicates in the ending that while he is unpretentious about the progress that has been made toward racial equality as of yet, he is still optimistic about the potential for future growth.
To understand the ending, one must understand that, through a series of separate episodes that clearly satirize elements of society, Twain makes the whole journey of Jim and Huckleberry a comment on ideological and moral extremes throughout the nation. Pap’s rant in which he refuses to participate in the government of a country “where they’d let [a] nigger vote” (Twain 20) is Twain’s comment on the ignorance of die-hard southerners and other dissenters who attack the government, but lack the desire to actually change anything. Misguided political and ideological conviction, though, is equally detrimental as illustrated by the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud in which nobody knows “what the row was about in the first place” (Twain 82). With these two examples, Twain attacks the apathetic Americans who care nothing for the country as well as the fierce nationalists who caused the Mexican and Civil Wars. He also attacks the moral extremes of Americans, such as those who only come to the King and Duke’s show only when “Ladies and children are not admitted” (Twain 114) due to the graphic content. Conversely, he attacks those who believe that the nation can be turned into an almost utopian state based on Christian ethics as exemplified by what the new judge tries to do with Pap when he “said he would make a man out of [Pap]” (Twain 16), but Pap responds by “trading his new coat for a jug of forty-rod” and getting “drunk as a fiddler” (Twain 17). These and other episodes in the novel reveal the social corruption of the nation at the time and how many efforts of reform failed or even enabled this corruption to continue due to its pretentious understanding of human nature. Overall, Twain attacks any extreme belief that was prevalent in the nation at the time and points to these beliefs as a root of many of the nation’s woes.
While the novel confronts a variety of American issues, the key topic Twain addresses is racism, which is accomplished by emphasizing the degree to which Huck ponders the morality of Jim’s enslavement. No in depth reading of Huckleberry Finn is required to understand that on some level, it is a story about a slave trying to escape to freedom. Where Twain reveals that the story’s deeper meaning involves slavery is where Huck begins to ponder moral issues in regards to Jim. When approaching Cairo, Huck seriously contemplates the implications of freeing Jim and “feels so low down and miserable he wishes he was dead” (Twain 66). Later, when Jim is captured by the Phelps family and Huck decides to free him, Huck thought about Jim as a friend and “couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden [himself] against [Jim]” (Twain 161). Essentially, Huck faces a developing sense of morality in regards to Jim throughout the novel. The moral progression may not live up to Huck’s early decisions to help Jim escape, as reflected by his belief “He’ll go to hell” (Twain 162) for freeing Jim from the Phelps family, yet the simple fact that any moral thought is put forth by Huck indicates that slavery is the central issue of the book. Throughout the novel, Huck lies, participates in schemes, and steals, yet virtually all his moral dilemmas revolve around slavery. Even when Huck has uncertainties about what to do for Mary Jane when the King and Duke try to steal the inheritance, slavery becomes involved after Mary Jane reveals her concerns to Huck about the sold slaves in that “she didn’t know how she could ever be happy… knowing the mother and children warn’t ever going to see each other no more” (Twain 140). The extent to which Huck morally progresses is fairly unimportant; simply the fact that he shows a moral interest in the issue of slavery when he cares little about any other societal aspect discloses the importance of slavery to the meaning of the novel. Twain, however, does not have Huck ponder widespread issues such as the justice of the national practice of slavery. Instead, before Huck tries to save Jim from the Phelps, Huck thinks of Jim as someone who stood before him “sometimes [in] moonlight, sometimes [in] storms…talking, and singing, and laughing” (Twain 161). By emphasizing the human aspect instead of the political aspect, Twain shifts attention from the widespread issue of slavery to racism which individuals are subjected to.
The anticlimactic nature of the ending to a novel that is about the moral and ideological state of the nation reveals that the author remains unimpressed with the nation’s progress in regards to race. One would expect that a book written about race relations at the height of the Jim Crow laws should be fairly critical, and in the case of Huckleberry Finn, the reader is not disappointed in that regard. Jim has in fact obtained freedom by the end of the book just as slaves were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment. He has not however gained the full respect of society because even after the doctor recounts the heroism shown by rescuing Tom, he is still referred to as “no bad nigger” (Twain 215) instead of an actual person and the only reward he receives is that the townspeople “promised, right out and hearty, that they wouldn’t cuss him no more” (Twain 215). Furthermore, Twain ridicules the erroneous belief that simple freedom will elevate the former slave to equality by revealing to the reader that Jim still has his primitive superstitions. At the beginning of the novel, while still a slave, Jim “had a hairball as big as your fist… and he used to do magic with it” (Twain 13). After obtaining freedom and forty dollars from Tom–which is perhaps an allusion to the forty dollars and mule promised, but never delivered, to free slaves– his basic position has not changed as indicated by his belief that a hairy chest led to his newfound wealth. In essence, Jim gained physical freedom but failed to obtain intellectual and social freedom. Mark Twain uses the treatment of Jim in Huckleberry Finn to tell readers that the nation has granted freedom to slaves, yet has done little to actually enable slaves beyond passing simple legislation, such as acknowledging their humanity.
In spite of Mark Twain’s characteristic cynicism, he ends The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on a note of cautious optimism, which offers a hope for future redemption through the change in circumstances of Huck Finn. By having Pap die and let Huck keep his six thousand dollars, Twain reveals that the political dissenters, especially the intransigent former Confederates, are dying off, leaving the nation in the hands of a younger generation that is accustomed to a free, if not yet equal, black race. Additionally, at the very end of the novel, Huck decides to “light out for the Territory ahead of the rest” (Twain 220). In having Huck do this, Twain points out that the nation still has much room to progress and that the coming years offer the possibility of the nation moving on and finding opportunities to at least partially atone and move past its previous acceptance of slavery. Perhaps Twain, like many other Americans, saw hope for new beginnings in the west and was inspired by black “exodusters” who fled white oppression in the south by fleeing to Kansas. While not exceptionally flattering to the nation in terms of what has been accomplished, Mark Twain reveals a faith in the Republic by emphasizing that the potential for change exists and the time may arrive when racial equality can in fact be realized.
The ending of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may be a letdown, yet it is also where the purpose of the story can be truly understood. Twain does not write the story of Huck Finn simply as a hilarious adventure, although it can certainly be read at that level. He instead writes it to serve as a commentary on American society as he saw it in the “Gilded Age” (a sarcastic term originated by Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today). If the story had a happy ending that left the reader satisfied with the life of Huck and Jim, Twain would blatantly betray the purpose of the novel and the book may still be entertaining and contain moral lessons, but the lessons would ring hollow. Instead, he is able to punctuate his story about the nation with an ending that serves as both a report card and a road map for the American journey to equality.