The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Idea Of Moral Development in The Novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” By Mark Twain
Maturing and developing a set of moral standards is a difficult process for young individuals; independence is often sought after, but the realization of being truly alone has a drastic impact on a person’s decisions. In the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain explores the idea of moral development through the character Huckleberry, who is a young teenager battling with the ideas of right and wrong. One of the many dilemmas Huck faces on his journey is whether or not he is right to be assisting the slave Jim in his escape from bondage. The moment at which Huck makes the decision to free Jim at all costs is representative of one of Twain’s most prevalent themes, morality; the main character undergoes an extreme transformation of character when he debates over the right step to take regarding Jim.
Huck’s struggle to find the right action to take reaches a peak near the end of the story; this is also where his character comes a profound realization that shapes the way he sees the world. This moment is the most pivotal point in Huck’s ethical progression; he is finally challenging the societal rules dictating his and Jim’s lives and attempting to formulate his own standards. After escaping a strict household where his life was essentially controlled by the Widow Douglas, he finds it difficult to break the law and help a runaway slave escape. However, Huck finds it ironic that even though the Widow is a devout Christian that preaches love and mercy, she and her equally faithful sister have nothing against slave ownership whatsoever.
Upon reaching a conclusion, he tears up a letter written to Jim’s owner about the runaway’s whereabouts and simply says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” Huck recognizes that his former guardians, who attempted to instill Christian values within him, would recognize it as immoral, but he believes that what he is doing is proper. Assisting a runaway slave in the mid-nineteenth century is not a simple matter, but Huck is willing to take an extreme risk and do so. By tearing up the letter, Huck is in effect tearing the societal institutions that deem his actions improper. At this point, Huck realizes that he is in control of his own life; he should not rely on any higher power or older person to tell him what to do or how to live. After being forced to live in a “civilized” manner for so long, he finally got the chance to experience life away from his previously mundane one. The fact that he is willing to “go to hell” shows quite a bit about his personality at this point; he dictates the rules of his own life and he will do whatever he wants.
A drastic difference is seen between the rebellious, uncivilized boy at the beginning and the upstanding individual near the end of the novel. Huck began by mindlessly following in the footsteps of his friend Tom Sawyer without thinking twice about his decisions. At one point, he even suggested that the rest of his gang should murder his guardians if he broke one of their agreements. His lack of compassion in the beginning sharply contrasts with how empathetic Huck is at the end. Throughout his journey, he feels sympathy for all manner of people: thieves, drunks, robbers, swindlers, murderers, and even the wealthy; interestingly, Huck rarely shows concern for Jim’s situation as a runaway slave. Although he once showed regret after pulling a prank on his friend, he hardly considered what Jim might have been going through. Huck then recalls how Jim would care for him and protect him under all circumstances without fear.
When Huck makes the final decision to free Jim, he also realizes how much he has neglected the slave; up until that point, he had shown less care for his friend than he had for other, more well-situated groups of people. This is the moment where Huck becomes aware of the nature of society he was raised in; the rules that are enforced by the people around him are fundamentally flawed. While others may see Jim as a criminal or piece of property, he sees him as a friend and a unique human being. This is perhaps one of the most crucial pieces of his character development; after all the time he spent with Jim in the cruel outdoors, he finally sees his companion’s value in his own life. Huck’s understanding of right and wrong is drastically changed by this single moment in the story. He knows that society is wrong for upholding such fallacious rules, and he refuses to abide by them any longer out of love for Jim.
Twain’s entire novel shows the slow progression of an ignorant juvenile as he is molded into a wise young man through his experiences away from civilization. Refusing to be a pawn of society, Huck wholly represents what Twain perceives as a true American: a proactive individual that independently distinguishes between right and wrong, living life according to his own laws.
Slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and in The Piano Lesson
Was the lasting effect of slavery in America over by the 1930s? In The Piano Lesson, August Wilson illustrates that blacks in America, specifically in the 1930s, are still haunted by the poverty that slavery left them in. There are many similarities and differences between slavery in the 1840’s in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and slavery in the 1930’s in The Piano Lesson.
The Symbol of Strong Bonds
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses the raft that Jim and Huck are sailing on across the Mississippi River as a symbol that the relationship between them is unbreakable as they are escaping to freedom. As Twain writes, “Jim and me was pretty glad to see it. It took away all the uncomfortableness and we felt mighty good over it, because it would a been a miserable business to have any unfriendliness on the raft; for what you want, above all things, on a raft, is for everybody to be satisfied, and feel right and kind towards the others (Chapter 9, page 5).” Huck and Jim were able to work their little fight out on the boat which gives Huck some relief. Huck and Jim friendship is so strong that they can work things out even out on a crowded raft. Similarly, in The Piano Lesson, August Wilson uses the piano as a symbol of the Charles’ family bond that the family holds within themselves and is worth everything to them. In both, Twain and Wilson use the raft and the piano respectively, to represent themes of the story. The raft with Jim and Huck on it represents the strong bonds of friendship, and the piano represents strong family relationships.
Additionally, in both The Piano Lesson and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn we see the theme of religion (specifically Christianity) playing a key role. Huck is always being told to go to Sunday School and Church. Even though Huck does not like civilization, the book still emphasizes Christianity and the religious life as the proper way of living. In The Piano Lesson Christianity is felt in the play, mostly through Avery, a black minister who is trying to grow his congregation.
The Rights of Black People
Prior to the Civil War, the time period that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes place, it was unthinkable for a black person to buy land. Throughout the novel, Jim, who has no rights, is consistently on the run and is always scrapping for money. On the contrary, it is evident from The Piano Lesson that although blacks were still suffering from slavery, it was still very different than when they were actually enslaved. August Wilson is trying to show this through Bernice, a single, black woman who owns the house that the movie takes place in. A single, black woman owning a house was unthinkable in the 1840s.
Additionally, another difference between the piano lesson and Huckleberry Finn is how the main characters in each values their family relationships. We see In Huckleberry Finn that Huck really doesn’t get along with his father and his father even kidnaps him once he finds out about the large sum of money. As it says “Pap he hadn’t been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable for me; I didn’t want to see him no more. He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to the woods most of the time when he was around”. This is showing that Huck wanted absolutely nothing to do with his drunken, lost father. However, in The Piano Lesson the whole opposite thing occurs. Bernice refuses to sell the piano because of the family bonds that the piano represents. We see that Bernice and Huck have a totally different representation of what family means to a individual.
Many people believed that slavery was a thing of the past in the 1930s. However, The Piano Lesson shows us that slavery was still very much present. Although slavery is illegal in the United States, racism is unfortunately still very much a part of the American experience.
Fresh milk, Homemade Bread and Corn, Childhood Delights in ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’
Huckleberry Finn In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the reason it was published follows the life of Mark Twain who was born as Samuel Langehorne Clemens in the town of Florida, Mississippi, in, 1835. He was only four years old when his family moved to Hannibal by the Mississippi River. Clemens spent most of his young life with his parents who had many household slaves. When his father died in 1847, Clemens acted out and left school and started to work for a printer then in 1851 he finished his apprenticeship. He worked in the newspaper industry with his brother for awhile and then later he quit his printing career to work on riverboats on the Mississippi. His life on the river really inspired him to write The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The riverboat life provided him with the pen name Mark Twain. When the Civil War started and exploded across America Clemens work ended on the river in 1861. After working on the river he headed West with his brother and worked as a miner in Nevada and later came to his true career path and became a journalist. In 1863 Clemens decided it was best to start signing articles with his pen name, Mark Twain. Throughout the late 1860s and 1870s his articles, stories, and novels became super popular. His novels The Innocents Abroad and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer became a national hit and they were a instant bestseller. Huckleberry Finn was a sequel to Tom Sawyer in order to maintain the popularity of the other novels. Twain mailey focused on the slavery in the south since he was a child and had slaves around the house. As he grew older th more he found out about slavery not being okay. The south was about to be a slave free region but began to fail. Twain later on began to have family problems with his wife being ill and their son dying only after 18 months. In 1891 he fell into debt by having poor investments and financial problems causing a huge toll on him and his family. Even after having such big problems he still devoted himself into writing. He finally published Huckleberry Finn in 1884 and was a huge hit.
This book really followed his life and all the social, economic, slavery and family problems. Twain continued to write over the next ten years and only published two novels after his big hit with Huckleberry Finn. He still found himself in debt after all these years and had even bigger family problems with his wife and his two daughters passing away. Twain still continued to be a public speaker until his death in 1910. However the story of Huckleberry Finn did not die along with Twain. Through the twentieth century the novel has become more popular then it did when it was written. The novel was also had been banned in the Southern states due to its critical take on the South with its racism, slavery, and social problems. A lot of people do and do not like this book because of its racism and words it uses, but that’s how it was back in the day and no one really saw the problem with using the “n” word. People liked this book due to its honesty and how it really was back in the day. I think that Twain really wanted people to see how the world was back in the day and the realism he wanted to create with this book. Recently this book has been criticized for its racial stereotypes and its use of the “n” word. Most people believe that Twain intended the book as an attack or racism, others argue that Twain failed to rise above the racial problems at the time. While some praised his efforts, most opposed his choice. I personally think that this is an okay book, it teaches us the reality of racism and slavery was back in the day and knowing those things aren’t okay in today’s world is good knowing something socially actually happened after this book was published. It was a good learning experience and definitely would recommend reading it.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Childhood Spent With Mark Twain in His Imaginary World
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn goes through many hardships battling through his conscience as the story goes on about whether or not to do the right thing or be a rebel. Through the events and Huck’s decisions displayed in the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, the reader better understands how Huck’s decisions affect his maturity as the novel progresses. Huck’s thoughts about school, being with a runaway slave, and rebelling from the norms of his society all contribute to change in Huck’s maturity.
From the beginning of the story, Huck Finn, the main character, is a rebellious free-minded twelve year old who lives in the wild doing whatever he wants. Hucks states in the beginning, “she put me in them new clothes feel cramped up”. Huck feels abnormal when treated with proper manners in this instance. The time he spends with his guardian, Widow Douglas, and her sister, Miss Watson, temporarily reform Huck. As it states on page fifteen, “At first I hated the school, but by and-by I got so I could stand it,” the moral compass of Huck is changing by the way he feels about school. When Huck was a rascal he hated school, but because of the changes brought upon him by the Widow, he temporarily becomes more of a mannered person in his society. When Huck discovers the whereabouts of his father who has been missing for a year, he panics and runs to Judge Thatcher. Pap, Huck’s gruesome and drunkard father, treats Huck awfully. Huck’s fortune of money that he owns from discovering a treasure in the story, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is sold because of the fear of his father stealing it if he were to reappear. Hucks demonstrates bold maturity when he says, “Please take it, and don’t ask me nothing – then I won’t have to tell no lies.” Huck represents a strong mature mindset compared to his foolishness in the beginning of the book. He chooses not to fib in order to not have to blatantly lie to the judge.
As the story progresses, Huck escapes from the captivity of his father. On his journey of running away, he comes across the Widow’s escaped slave named Jim. Jim and Huck become very close as they both want freedom and decide to travel down the Mississippi specifically to get Jim free. This decision of Huck to help a slave escape goes extremely agaisnt the norms of his society regarding slavery. Hucks sees differently than others in his society through the actions he portrays while being with Jim. Huck’s maturity falters when he pulls pranks on Jim, but Jim scolds which leads to Huck feeling remorseful. At one point in the novel, Huck and Jim get separated and Huck makes up a lie to Jim saying that the separation of the two was just a dream. Jim feels incredibly betrayed saying, “Dat truck dah is trash… dey fren’s en makes ’em ashamed”. Huck’s reaction to Jim’s anger is very mature. Huck feels deeply remorseful and “realizes that he was unintentionally harming an innocent man through these pranks”. The way that Huck identifies his mistake by “humbling himself to a nigger” portrays that Huck has compassion and regret for his actions towards Jim, demonstrating maturity.
While on the Mississippi River, near the end of Huck and Jim’s travels, Huck displays an extremely mature conscience compared to the one at the beginning of the novel. While on the Mississippi, two men come to the raft that Huck and Jim are on to search for escaped slaves. Jim hides for fear of being caught and getting sold back to Widow Douglas. Huck knows deep down in his conscience that society would tell him to expose Jim, but Huck opposes, doing what he thinks is right. Huck even says he does not want to be called a “low down Abolitionist” but he still chooses not to tell the men that Jim is on the raft and that he will “do whichever comes handiest at the time”. By not telling the slave catchers that there is indeed a slave on the raft, the reader can understand that Huck has matured so much to the point that he wants to do what is right instead of what society says is right. Not only does Huck know what deep down is the right moral decision, but “he does not choose the right thing society says because he would feel bad about it”. Huck demonstrates his most mature self during the climax. During this part of the novel, Jim has been betrayed by the King and sold to a farm. Huck, incredible distressed and panicked, tries to find Jim. Huck comes to the conclusion that he should write a letter to the Widow Douglas and tell her that Jim is in Pikesville with Mr. Phelps. Although Huck could go the easy route with this proposed idea, he does not want Widow Doulgas to be mad when she would be informed that Huck helped Jim escape. Instead, Huck goes through a long moral debate in his head on whether or not he should rescue Jim, finally ending in a crucial decision. Huck’s conscience, heart, and moral compass convince him to destroy the letter that was going to go to the Widow Douglas leading him to say, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”. This quote is the most important quote in the entire novel because it demonstrates Huck’s deep moral maturity and his commitment to the protection and freedom of Jim.
Huckleberry Finn contrasts significantly to his society because of his actions that go against its norms. Huck demonstrates how an Abolitionist can be as young as a teenager by helping Jim escape. Huck deliberately goes against his society numerous times throughout the novel for the sake of helping a friend become free. Huck disregards the consequences of his actions, prioritizing the freedom and friendship between himself and Jim so that they can succeed in their plan. All of these examples prove to the reader that Huck has matured over the course of the novel. One could go to the extent to say that Huck’s morality is superior to some of those in our society. People in our society can be racist, bigots, and rude to those who they think are inferior. The compassion and friendship Huck represents towards Jim can contrast against the actions that people can demonstrate in High School to others who may be of a different race. Readers of the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can conclude that Huck is a role model demonstrating kindness and compassion to those who society may think of otherwise.
Prototypes of The Heroes of the Novel by Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain uses the theme of individuality and he shows this through the main character Huckleberry Finn by showing the gap between Huck’s beliefs and society’s about the social issues and culture conflicts of this time period. In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he portrays Huckleberry Finn as an antagonist. Mark Twain uses satire in his dialogue to amuse his audience. This has caused conflict between some audience who is offended by the ‘N’ word which is used many times and other part of the audience who believes it is purely used to remember the history around this book. Huck is used to portray the innocence, uncivilized, young boy. Huck only says what he believes is right, and does not care that society has completely different beliefs.
Twain used The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to bring notice to the problems of society and conflicts of white supremacy. The underlying theme of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is that the ideas of society can greatly influence the individual, and sometimes the individual must break off from the accepted values of society to determine the ultimate truth for himself. Huck believes that society is always wrong and has corrupted everything and caused way too much unnecessary conflicts between different social groups and cultures. The conflict between Huckleberry Finn and society is that society was trying to make slavery and white supremacy okay where as on the other hand Huckleberry Finn knew that was wrong and he shows that where he tried to free Jim from slavery. Huckleberry Finn’s father was a drunk and this ended up separating him from society at a very young age where he grew apart from it and became very independant and that is why he has completely different beliefs from society.
However, Huck’s beliefs make his life harder on him sometimes than it would be to follow society. An example of this is when Huck tries to free Jim because his beliefs have taught him that it is the correct thing to do in that situation because Huck believes all humans are equal, whereas the correct thing to do to society would have just been to leave Jim and stay out of other people’s business. So even though it was the choice that was a lot more difficult, Huck did it because he believed it was the correct thing to do. One thing you have to remember about Huck is that since he was separated from society at such a young age, he doesn’t know between what is and is not correct to society, all he knows is all he’s learned. That doesn’t change the fact that sometimes Huck is upset with himself about the fact that he believes he may be wrong in some circumstances but doesn’t know it. An example of this is in chapter 31 when he began to write the letter to Miss Watson but then realized that’s not what he believed was correct at all, and as he was writing it he realized that and ended it and destroyed it. Huck is used as a symbol to represent the Northerners and society is the southerners. Huck believes that slavery is not okay and all people are equal, no matter what color your skin is, you are not any less of a person just like the northerners banned slavery because they believed it wasn’t okay. Whereas in the south, they had slaves still because just like society in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they thought it was okay because they believed hugely in white supremacy.
Mark Twain does not believe in white supremacy as shown multiple times throughout the novel.An example of this is how he recognizes that Jim isn’t any less of a person than him or anyone else no matter what color skin. He shows that when he wrote “I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their”. Through this quote, Twain really shows that the society around Huck, the things that make Huck the way he is, say what he says, believe what he believes, and do what he does, is corrupt to believe in white supremacy. Emphasizing the conflict between Huck Finn and Society, and the social issues between different cultures and social groups in the time period of the late 1800’s. Twain used Society and Huckleberry Finn as an analogy of the conflict of the North and the South America in the late 1800’s. Huck Finn represented the Northern states, and the society around him represented the Southern states. Huck Finn believes heavily that everyone is equal and greatly opposes white supremacy. He believes it is not okay that Jim is used as Miss Watson’s slave just because of his color of skin and that is why he tries to free him. Society on the other hand heavily believes in white supremacy and degrades those with colored skin. Southern states during this time period were huge with white supremacy and were all for it, just like society in the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck’s separation from society made it so he doesn’t know that society believes what they believe, all he knows is what he has learned from his experiences and in this case that is that he believes all humans are equal.
Education Perception in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most important pieces of American literature from the eighteen hundreds. An amazing satire revolving around a poor white boy and runaway slave that challenged all ideas about racism from the time. Although racism was the central focus of the novel, I believe that Twain was also critiquing how education was perceived at the time, and probably how it is still perceived today. Throughout the novel it is expressed how educated people use their knowledge to impose power over others, and how school education is given much more value than experience even though it has been proved over and over that being smart in school is not as important for life when compared to other types of intelligence and forms of learning.
Based on this, why do educated people use their knowledge to put themselves above others instead of educating them? And why is it that experience is not considered a more effective form of learning instead of school? I argue that people use their knowledge to control those who they think to not be fit to be an equal, and because of this learning through experience has been discredited. Since the beginning of the novel Twain shows how the characters use their education to show superiority over others. This is especially present in the begging of the novel when Tom Sawyer decides to form a gang by the name of “Tom Sawyer’s Gang”. Right since the begging he’s showing the members of the gang by putting himself above them, he makes a set of rules and creates scenarios that he backs up with books he has read. When the other Huck question his rules and lies he puts him back in their place by imposing his education. Tom says “if I warn’t so ignorant, but had read a book called ‘Don Quixote’, I would know”. He uses this to shame Huck for his lack of knowledge in books. The reasoning behind Tom’s actions are still present in society today, Twain was critiquing how society uses knowledge to show superiority over those who don’t have access to it for only purpose of controlling them. No human would follow another in such a blind way if they didn’t believe they were below them.
Tom Sawyer needed the kids to believe he was above them so that they would follow his gang scam so that he could have an adventure. The same scenario shows up again by the end of the novel when Tom and Huck want to free Jim from the Phelps’ plantation. Huck has a logical plan; steal the key, open the door, remove the chains and free Jim. But Tom has a more complicated plan based on the books he has read, the plan that takes months to be completed and everyone ends up getting hurt by Tom’s selfish idea. Even though Huck knew Tom’s ideas were foolish and proposes his own more logical ideas Tom always finds a way to convince Huck by telling him it’s in the books and when he’s tired of Huck questioning him he says “well if that ain’t like you Huck Finn. You can get up the infant-schooliest ways of going at a thing. Why, hain’t you ever read any books at all?” . Tom once again has humiliated Huck and shown his superiority by showing off the many books he has read, and Huck believes him because it’s what society has taught him. However, society’s opinion about books and education affects mostly the lower classes and especially slaves. Jim, the runaway slave, is put through many tortures during Tom’s plan to free him from the Phelps. Tom puts snakes, spiders and rats into Jim’s shed; when the rats bite him he has to use the blood to write on an old shirt. Even though Jim knew this intricate plan was ridiculous he still followed Tom Sawyer. Twain writes, “Jim couldn’t see no sense in the most of [the plan], but he allowed we was white folks and knowed better than him; so he was satisfied and said he would do it all as Tom said”.
Twain shows how Jim and Huck had common sense and were actually really smart, but they had been put down so many times by what they thought to be educated people that they had started to believe that they knew nothing at all, and educated people know better. Again, Tom only uses his knowledge to be superior to others, not because he actually wants to be educated. Tom needs something to make people follow him and he needs people who actually believe him, it is easier for him to use people that have been told their whole lives that they don’t know anything and that they can’t be taught for his personal amusement. Due to society’s opinion surrounding books and education, people have come to believe that school is the only way one can get an education. Society praises those who go to school to get educated, because it is the only right way . Furthermore, they never question what is learned form school and books. Twain critiques in the scene where Huck states that Tom’s plans to free Jim are foolish, to which Tom replies, “[i]t don’t make no difference how foolish it is, it’s the right way . . . there ain’t no other way, that ever I heard of, and I’ve read all the books that give any information about this things”. What the author is trying to teach us about school is that it is never questioned. The results are shown clearly in Huck and Tom’s relationship, Huck has put himself below Tom for the only reason that he is educated even if he proves to himself many times that he is just as smart, if not smarter, than Tom Sawyer.
However, we quickly learn how Huck is different from society. He questions everything that society and books have taught him, he follows what he believes in instead of what people have told him; this is why Huck is the only one getting truly educated. In my opinion, Huck has received the best education one can have; experience. In the book it is shown countless times how Huck’s experiences have taught him more about life and how to solve problems than any book Tom Sawyer or any educated individual has read. We are first exposed to this idea when Huck meets the king and duke, he says “[i]f I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way”. What Twain is showing us is how smart Huck really is. Huck was able to learn from a past experience with his dad apply it to a current situation in order to deal with it in the best way possible. Later on in the novel a group of educated individuals meet the king and duke, who use their emotions against these people to gain wealth from their problems. And yet only one from the group noticed that they were frauds, so why is it that a group of educated people couldn’t notice what Huck did in a matter of seconds? The truth is that books don’t really prepare you for life, and it is our experiences and observations of the world that really prepare us for the life in front of us. By the end of the novel Tom Sawyer expresses that the only right way to do something is the one that is expressed in books. For this reason, when he plans to free Jim he decides to excavate a whole with knifes as it was told in the many books he had read. Upon a few hours he realizes that Huck’s opinion about his plans were right and they should have used the shovel and pickaxes. When Tom’s hands have blisters from trying to use the knifes for hours he finally says “well there’s excuse for picks and letting-on in a case like this; if it warn’t so I wouldn’t approve of it, nor I wouldn’t stand by and see the rules broke”.
Twain shows how Tom has learned from his experience after trying to excavate a whole with just knives and understands that what is in the books will most probably not apply for real life situations like this one. He should have learned to trust his experiences instead of the books alone. The problem with experiences is that you have to go through them in order to learn, therefore, it was necessary that his hands blistered from the knives before he learned from his mistake. We learn from our mistakes, and this type of learning is probably the most durable there is. Usually what is taught in school people forget not long after it has been taught. The school system also teaches us to know our place in society and to follow authority figures above anything else. In school we learn to not question the teachers and elderly, to accept what they tell us for the truth above everything else. But the truth is that school doesn’t really prepare us for life, the only thing that does is experience. “You lie and you learn” is a phrase that is constantly coming back in our life, because we learn from our experiences and mistakes. However, only who is truly educated and smart can learn from the past and use this to apply it to future situations. I personally believe Huck ends up being the smartest and most educated character in the novel. He is the only one that is able to break down traditional thoughts and is willing to follow his thoughts wherever they lead. He learns from tragic experiences in order to figure out how society works. I believe this is true education, one that makes you a better person, a critical thinker and someone who is not using their knowledge to put themselves above others.
The Display Of Pre-Civil War America in The Novel “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”
The novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” has proven time and time again to be one of the highlights, if not the beginning of modern American literature. The american classic has fought against being banned, and heavily criticized however its context has never been so heavily analyzed as well. Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” takes place in Missouri on the Mississippi River, prior to the Civil War. The story’s two protagonists Huck Finn, and Jim both seek freedom from their current situations. Huck is desperate to free himself from the social norms of society, as well as his drunk father. While Jim’s freedom is much more literal, as he escapes from slavery.
Throughout the adventures in the novel the two learn from one another, and challenge the constraints of society. Huck Finn’s character of him being a good or bad boy is often been the topic of debate for many scholars. The argument that Huck Finn is a good boy is much more believable. As flawed and as imperfect that Huck displays depth of empathy, and compassion that is impossible for a bad person to fell. Huck Finn’s ability to have strong direction between right and wrong is what guides him through various hoops in the novel.
Huck’s strongest empathic action is after it is clear he done with participating with the King and Duke’s scams. He does this when learns of their plan to scam the Wilk’s daughters from their late father’s inheritance. When he goes to Mary Jane, it is an act of compassion rather than self-interest. This compassion is shown when Huck says, “Them poor things was that glad and happy it made my heart ache to see them getting fooled and lied to so”. When specifically looking it Huck’s decision to turn in Jim, he does feel it would be the correct thing to do. This decision is not a question of ethics, but a decision that location based. Being apart of the Widow Douglas’s home, when they tried to ‘sivilize’ him this includes agreeing to structural racism. Although Huck does not see Jim as property, he knows that is how society treats him.
Pre-Civil War America would see Jim the property of Miss Watson. After the knee-jerk decision, Huck feels “clean of sin”. This cleansing comes from his upbringing, but not his own heart. After he reveals where Jim reminisces on all the times Jim showed him kindness, unlike many other people in Huck’s life. This reflection brings Huck to the conclusion that he needs to emancipate Jim. This innate ability to work through conflict, and empathize combats the idea that his change of heart not irrational. If Huck was weak willed, would mean he would not have the ability to reason.
Finally, it is imperative to assess Huck the same way people judge children. Huck is only thirteen, or fourteen tops meaning that he is not fully grown and his mind is changing. To determine him to be a bad person solely on his child-like behaviors, and what some perceive is weak willed is foolish. Throughout most of the novel Huck is often battling what he has been brought up to believe, and how to think. Huck’s choice to see Jim more than simply property shows a great deal of growth. It is intrinsic for parents, or mentors to want to see themselves in their child, but for the child it is essential for them to be better versions of their mentors. Huck does this when he is able to adapt his own beliefs prior to meeting Jim.
Progression of Friendship Between Huck and Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The famous boxer and philanthropist, Muhammad Ali, once said “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” Throughout the whole world (both fictional and real situations) friendship has always proven to be the key to fix problems and that overtime friendships only progress into deeper connections. In Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there is an obvious friendship shown betwixt (between) Huck and Jim. Alone for a while, Huck become lonely, Huck admitted “I was ever so glad to see Jim” (Twain 44). Friendship doesn’t come to Huck as naturally as it does to Jim, so Huck stating he was happy to see Jim shows that he takes liking into Jim already. Huck and Jim found a dead body, so Jim looks at it, and calmly states, “It’s a dead man. Yes, indeedly; naked, too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days.
Come in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face- it’s too gashly” (53). Jim is protecting Huck from seeing his dead father, so Huck doesn’t become depressed. Huck was keeping watch and Jim was stock still sleeping (not moving), Huck assured, “Git up, and hump yourself, Jim! There ain’t a minute to lose. They’re after us” (65). Hearing this, they struck out (set off), but the only one in high danger was Jim, because Huck knew they would hash up (beat up) Jim, but as a good friend Huck tried to keep Jim safe and more calm. Jim was filled with joy to see Huck, Jim hollers (shouts), “Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain’ dead—you ain’ drownded—you’s back agin? It’s too good for true, honey, it’s too good for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o’ you. No, you ain’ dead! you’s back agin, ‘live en soun’, jis de same ole Huck—de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness” (87)! Jim makes it clear how pleased he is to see Huck alive and well, Jim cares for Huck. Jim thought he had a dream where Huck and him were lost from each other, and Jim explained, “When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin’ for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos’ broke bekase you wuz los” “de tears come en I coulda got down on my knees en kiss’ yo’ foot I’s so thankful” (89). Jim cares so much for Huck that even the thought about losing Huck scares hims o muc, he was thankful to see Huck and express his gratitude. Down their journey in the raft on the river, Jim came out flat-footed (stated plainly), “Potty soon I’ll be a-shout’n for joy, en I’ll say, it’s all on accounts o’ Huck; I’s a free man, en I couldn’t ever ben free ef it hadn’ ben for Huck; Huck done it.
Jim won’t ever forgit you, Huck; you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had (92). This quote shows the progression of their friendship because Jim expresses his gratefulness for Huck being such a indulgent friend in helping him become free. Jim prasies Huck for being a great friend, Jim explained, “you’s de only fren’ ole Jim’s got now” (92). This shows how thankful Jim is to have Huck as a friend, the only friend he has. Jim sings, “We’s safe, Huck, we’s safe! Jump up and crack yo’ heels, dat’s de good Cairo at las’, I jis knows it” (92)! Jim is always worried for Huck’s safety, he always knows how to ease tension with Huck. Getting ready to turn in Jim, Huck instead said, “He’s white” (93). Instead of saying he was black and telling the two men where Jim was, Huck proves his loyalty to Jim by not ratting him out. Huck had escaped the feuds and Jim is away from the swamp, Huck explained, “I hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday; so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage, and greens- there ain’t nothing in the world so good, when it’s cooked right- and whilst I eat my supper we talked, and had a good time” (119).
Even though it may be a simple meal, it is a comfort for them both, they both talked and grew closer. At night Jim and Huck take turns on watch at night, Huck said, “I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn. He often done that (157). Jim is a protective friend and this shows how selfless he is to let Huck sleep longer, he put Huck’s needs in front of his own. Huch was holding a paper of Jim’s whereabouts and he tore it up, Huck said to himself, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell’ – and tore it up” (217). Huck is willing to risk his life to save his Jim’s life, he is doing the ultimate sacrifice. Throughout the story, Huck and Jim’s friendship progresses into an even better relationship. They grew together through their hardships, overcoming their problems only made them stronger together. Jim and Huck’s friendship is something the world should strive to obtain.
Why We SHould Read The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been banned in many different schools across the country. The book has been called “offensive and uncomfortable”, and many parents have argued about whether its academic significance outweighs these negative aspects – and whether or not it has an academic significance at all. However, it is the controversial and “offensive” aspects of the book that make it so significant; the racist language it is saturated in shows how deeply entrenched slavery and white supremacy were in the South. Moreover, the tone Twain uses is intended to make his readers feel uncomfortable so that they will develop a better understanding of just how normalized and deep-rooted racism was during the 19th century and also to make them consider what racism is like in the time that they are reading it in.
Twain’s use of “offensive” language highlights the flaws in American culture during the time Huckleberry Finn takes place in as well as the present day. It shows that American culture was founded upon the white supremacy that can still be seen in today’s culture. Huck, for example, still refers to Jim as a “runaway nigger” even after expressing extensive care and worry toward him and the doctor’s treatment of him (Twain 289), which displays how deeply racism has been ingrained into his behavior and thought process. It can be inferred that if someone as young as Huck is thinking about colored people in this way, then most adults are thinking and acting similarly, if not more extremely. Furthermore, Twain is telling his readers that racism is so embedded into American culture that it’ll take much more than bonding over a life or death experience to eradicate it from a single individual’s brain, which would make it nearly impossible to remove from American culture completely. Showing the extent of racism during this time period without using offensive language would be difficult, especially if it’s written in a narrative like Huckleberry Finn. Critic Toni Morrison discusses Twain’s frequent use of the word “nigger” in her essay “This Amazing, Troubling Book”. She explains that censorship of this book because of his use of this word is “designed to appease adults rather than educate children.” She continues to explain that a serious educational discussion of this word would have benefitted her class when she was in high school (Morrison 386). When considering how big a problem bullying has become and the increased use of this word in recent time – mainly due to the rise of rap music – discussion of this word would be beneficial to any modern student. The word has become such an issue because people are too afraid and uncomfortable to discuss it, yet an intellectual discussion of the word within classrooms would make students more aware of the word’s implications and historical context.
Not only does Huckleberry Finn help us identify the flaws in modern American culture, it is also key in understanding the time period it was written and takes place in . It represents a popular, yet valuable, narrative and train of thought during the time that lead up to the Civil War, especially in the South. During this period, it was wired into whites’ brains that they are superior to blacks, which can be seen in Huck’s personal narrative in the book whenever he is thinking about and referring to Jim. His view as a white southerner contributes a clearer understanding of how blacks were seen and treated by whites – not just by how Jim is treated by Huck, but also by other characters’, such as Huck’s dad and Tom Sawyer, treatment of Jim. Ishmael Reed uses a prime example of this in his essay “Mark Twain’s Hairball” when describing Huck’s father’s white supremacism by saying that he “doesn’t want blacks to appear to be ‘better’n’ what they are”, thus “justifying” the lynching of successful black people. His narrative also shows that white citizens are exposed to white supremacy at a very young age, thus teaching them to grow up believing that racism is normal and acceptable. Additionally, Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn during and after the Reconstruction Era, and many events and analogies can be seen in the book that mirror or represent the historical context of Twain’s time. One of the most important of these analogies is the metaphor of the Ohio River. When Jim and Huck decide not to take the journey down the Ohio River, it is meant to represent the US government’s decision not to continue to pursue a human rights initiative and thus an interracial democracy. Twain is disappointed in the US for not pursuing this route, so he sets up this metaphor to make the reader feel the same way toward Huck and Jim and the opportunity that the Ohio River presents for them.
Huckleberry Finn provides insight on current flaws in American culture, a common narrative from the time period it takes place in, and a look at American identity throughout its history and in its present. These are all key concepts to any history class, but especially to the course every junior at NCSSM takes: American Studies. In the NCSSM course catalog, American Studies’ course description says that “In examining the American experience from multiple perspectives, students develop a more nuanced sense of what America is and what it means to be an American.” Huckleberry Finn presents a valuable American experience that, through analysis, provides readers with an understanding of America and its culture in historical and modern context, which is exactly what is described in the quote from the course description. Twain uses “offensive and uncomfortable” language to provide this valuable narrative of an American experience. Though some readers may misunderstand the satire or diction that Twain uses in his writing, this should not prevent students from reading and interpreting the book in a historical and cultural context.
Main Issues Of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Throughout the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, an immature boy named Huckleberry Finn recounts his adventures as he develops into a young adult. Huck launches into his autobiography by explaining the important events that have occurred in another of Twain’s books, so as to establish the setting. During the previous escapade, Huck and his friend Tom discovered treasure, which caused them to become rich. Soon after, the Widow Douglas and her sister, named Miss Watson, began to house Huck because his father had disappeared, though Huck had become so frustrated that he had ran away. Later on, he agreed to return to the Widow Douglas, because he would then be able to join Tom’s gang.
Now in the present day, Huck at first resents the Widow Douglas’s attempts to civilize him, but eventually accustomates to his new life. During this period, Tom’s gang is considered a disaster by its members, because their plans of murder and burglary have failed to occur. One day, Huck discovers a devil symbol in the snow and superstitiously sells his fortune to his friend, Judge Thatcher, for a dollar. That night, his drunken father appears in his room and demands Huck’s wealth. The father is outraged by his son’s new clothes and literacy, but eventually absconds. A custody battle soon ensues between the Widow Douglas and Huck’s father, where it is decided that Huck should not be separated from his papa. Soon afterwards, the father resolves to take him to a secluded cabin in the woods, where he beats his son harshly. Because of this mistreatment, Huck begins to plan his escape by gathering supplies and hiding an abandoned canoe that he had previously discovered. Soon afterwards, he enacts this plan by staging a murder scene and then floating away on the boat to a nearby island.
While investigating the area, he encounters his friend Jim, one of Miss Watson’s slaves that had recently escaped. The companions decide to create a single campsite, and succeed in doing so just before a huge storm materializes. When mass flooding causes an abandoned house to float down the river, the comrades investigate it and discover a corpse. After this, very little occurs until Huck disguises himself as a woman so as to gain information from the townsmen. While there, he learns that a lady had sent her husband to search the island for Jim, who is one of the main suspects in Huck’s murder. Huck races back to the island, where the friends continue their journey on the river in the canoe, along with a raft that they had found during the storm.
As the days pass, the friends go through many ordeals, such as when they are briefly separated by fog. While the pair continues to float to the free states, Huck begins to feel guilty for aiding in the escape one of Miss Watson’s slaves. After a huge mental debate, he ultimately resolves to value Jim’s friendship over her right to property. Later on, a ship rams into the raft and separates the two comrades, which forces Huck to swim to the shore. While there, the Grangerford family provides him with clothing and food. During the time that he spends with the household, he is briefly united with Jim after a slave leads Huck to his location. Huck’s time with the Grangerfords ultimately comes to an end, after most of the family is obliterated while fighting a rival clan. Huck and Jim become so horrified by the violence that they resolve to continue their adventure down the river.
Time once again flies by, until two con artists, demanding to be called the Duke and the Dauphin, join them on their journey south. Jim and Huck can only watch as the men commit one sinful act after another, such as putting on a two minute play called The Royal Nonesuch. Huck becomes shocked when the con artists attempt to steal a dead man’s inheritance, by pretending to be his brothers. After Huck’s guilt almost tears him apart, he steals the money back and tells the location of the wealth to the deceased man’s daughters. Later on, Huck, the Duke, and the Dauphin’s true identities are discovered, and they all eventually escape to the boat. The crew continues their voyage down the river, until Huck escapes the Duke and the Dauphin as they are arguing at a tavern.
When he returns to the raft, he discovers that the Dauphin had sold Jim off to make a profit, and Huck decides to rescue him. He finds out the location of Jim’s captor after finding the Duke, and then sets off in that direction. Huck walks to the farm where Jim is being held, which just so happens to be Tom Sawyer’s Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally’s house. The couple has been anticipating Tom’s arrival on a steamboat, and Huck decides to impersonate Tom until he can free Jim. Just as Huck hears a steamboat, he runs to meet Tom so that he can explain his predicament. As soon as the friends return, Tom impersonates his half-brother Sid and uses several clues to determine Jim’s location. Tom then creates an adventure out of liberating Jim and wastes a large amount of time in the process, further endangering himself as well as his friends. Eventually, Uncle Silas resolves to insert a note in the newspaper to notify Jim’s owner of his capture, and Tom writes fake letters to the family in response. These messages warn the family of a thief’s plan to steal Jim. That night, a group of farmers gather around the shed in response. As the boys are attempting to escape, the farmers mistake them for criminals, wounding Tom by shooting him in the leg. After they collect their raft and canoe, Huck sends a doctor to treat Tom. Uncle Silas finds Huck the next day and brings him back to his home.
Over the next several days Huck fails to find Tom, until he is carried into Aunt Sally’s house, along with Jim. The crowd throws Jim back into the shed, even though he is still tied up in chains. Tom eventually wakes up from his semiconscious state to tell of their adventure, and that Jim, who is freed in Miss Watson’s will, is no longer a slave. Immediately after hearing this news, Tom’s Aunt Polly arrives at Aunt Sally’s farm. She is confused as to why Aunt Sally claims to have Sid, who is actually at her house. After the details are sorted out, Jim is relieved of his chains, given food, and provided with forty dollars for his troubles. Soon after, Jim reveals to Huck that the corpse that they had seen during the beginning of their journey was his father. On this note, Huck claims that this is the end of his tale. Despite this statement, he admits that he is contemplating the idea of running away from Aunt Sally, who is constantly attempting to civilize him.
While reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, societal hypocrisy appears to be one of the most evident themes present. Throughout the story, Huck becomes extremely confused by the decent people that he encounters and why such virtuous human beings regard African Americans so terribly. The Widow Douglas is a prime example of this, since she provides Huck with a loving home, yet also attempts to sell Jim for some extra cash. Later on, Tom’s Aunt Sally also treats Huck kindly, yet keeps Jim locked in a shed until his master can come and retrieve him. These people believe in kindness and religion, yet they treat African Americans as less than human. Moreover, when Huck encounters the Grangerford family, who are extraordinarily amiable towards him, he is shocked by the bloody and irrelevant feud that they participate in. This again illustrates the different hypocrisies people maintain, whether it be towards the black community or between different families.
Also, the conflicting themes of maturity and adolescence appears to be present throughout Huck’s adventure. In the beginning of the novel, Huck, as a member of Tom’s gang, participates in childish games. Furthermore, Huck fails to realize the implications of a runaway slave when he first meets Jim on the island. Instead of understanding that Miss Watson’s property has escaped, Huck only feels childish delight in seeing his friend. This illustrates the shallow thinking Huck originally shows during the introduction of the story. As time continues to elapse, Huck begins to comprehend that it is considered wrong, based on the views of society, to aid in Jim’s escape. Despite this fact, Huck concludes that no matter the standards set by civilization, he must protect his friend. These thoughts display commitment to an action and deep thought that only a responsible person can achieve. Later on in the novel, Huck reverts back to his old state when trying to liberate Jim from Aunt Sally’s shed. Here, Huck and Tom turn this dangerous act into a game, even asking Jim to keep snakes in his shed to make their rescue resemble the plots of different books. This again displays the different conflicting concepts of immaturity and deep thought that Huck is able to enact. By analyzing Twain’s book, one can see the different themes that are written about, such as societal hypocrisy, immaturity, and adulthood.
Huckleberry Finn- The major protagonist in the story, Huck begins his journey as a young rapscallion who is unsatisfied by the civilized life he is living. Huck is extremely intelligent, though he thinks of himself as dumb for being uneducated. Throughout his adventure, the young boy seems to identify the hypocrisy in society that others do not question, unless he is around his friend Tom. In this case, Huck behaves immaturely while following Tom’s lead, such as while helping Jim escape from Aunt Sally’s shed. Huck also attempts to treat others with kindness and sympathy, such as his decision to help Jim. Huck’s independent thinking may unintentionally clash with society, but he almost always struggles to take the morally acceptable course of action.
Jim- The runaway slave that ultimately becomes one of Huck’s best friends, Jim, is extremely uneducated but loyal to his friends and family. He appears to understand the natural world around him, like his calm reaction to a snake bite, though he is arguably passive. Jim agrees to serve the two con artists because he truly believes that they are royalty, which further shows Jim’s relatively unquestioning nature. Jim acts as a positive influence in Huck’s life, mainly by showing him that both blacks and whites can feel the same emotions.
Tom- One of Huck’s good friends, Tom has a serious mischievous streak and tends to influence Huck in a negative direction. Tom creates lots of rules for Huck to follow based on the books he has read, and often calls him dull for questioning them. One could argue that he is a bit selfish, for he does not tell Jim that he is a free man in the eyes of the law, just so he can create an adventure. Tom appears to act impulsively, though he can be extremely witty when he wants to be. In some aspects, he could be seen as the total opposite of Huck, since he displays shallow thinking and acceptance of rules without questioning them.
The Duke and The Dauphin- These two con artists first encounter Jim and Huck while running away from the consequences of their latest individual schemes. Though the men have never met each other before this, they quickly team up and carry out different ploys out of greed. These two men display the intelligence and dishonesty necessary to steal the inheritance from a dead man’s daughters. These two lowlifes are last seen after the Dauphin has sold Jim off to make a quick buck, which throws Huck into another dangerous situation. Overall, these two men are nothing but crooks, which try to take advantage of the young and dimwitted people that they encounter.
When examining the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, the most apparent structure used is possibly the distinctions in dialect. The characters’ speech is created so as to reflect their education and culture, while still influencing the events of the book. When Huck encounters an educated lawyer, the differences in their speaking styles are incredible. If one were to analyze Huck’s speaking patterns, they would find the grammar and dialect of an uneducated boy. “There warn’t nothing to do now but look out sharp for the town”, is just one sentence that reflects Huck’s lack of education. In comparison, the lawyer’s sentence, “Set down, my boy; I would not strain myself if I were you”, seems incredibly sophisticated and proper. Also, the structure of the plot seems to be chronological, except for the instances in which the characters reflect on events from the past. One example of this is Jim’s stories about his family, which displays his loving nature and constant thoughts about them. Huck also does this, often comparing mischievous acts to ones previously committed by Tom Sawyer and himself. This informs the reader of Huck’s most inner thoughts, that he does still think of his friends at home throughout the course of the book. Through the use of various dialects and mentions of past events, the reader is able to gain more information about the characters involved.
After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one can truly admire Mark Twain’s amazing skills as a novelist. He fully immerses himself into Huck’s character, and though the narration perfectly captures Huck’s poor writing capabilities, Twain also conveys his pure intelligence to the audience. Huck is able to identify the hypocrisies present in society, and has the intellectual capabilities to question racial discrimination, among other issues. Twain also makes the story captivating and suspenseful by adding twists to the plot, such as Tom’s knowledge of Jim’s freedom. Moreover, Twain understands the influence different characters have on each other’s decisions, such as Huck’s altered behavior around his friend Tom. Twain comprehends that a person does not always exhibit the same personality traits and decisions in different situations, and alters the characters’ reactions as a result. Though Huck appears to have developed as a person during his adventure, Twain alters Huck’s thoughtful persona once he encounters Tom. Instead of being a thoughtful, independent person, he once again acts as the childish follower in Tom’s plans to free Jim. Twain’s novel is well written and provocative, and should be read by all high school students.