Social Change In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain was written during the late 19th century, but he set the books date decades earlier when slavery was still a legal thing. During this time the Civil War was happening and truly showing the souths true colors. Slavery in the south was a terrible time for black people, the white owners treated them horribly physically and psychologically. The book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is searching for freedom from his drunk abusive father and strict guardian, while Jim searches for freedom from slavery and oppression because of his race. Mark Twain setting this during the Civil War times shows tension between whites and blacks, north and south and how slavery was involved. Huck and Jim’s friendship demonstrates that an individual camaraderie passes racial bias. Huckleberry “Huck” Finn is the son of the towns vagrant drunk; his father’s name is “Pap” Finn. Huck sleeps on doorsteps when the weather is good, in abandoned sheds during harsh storms, and basically just living off the land as a kid.

Author portrays him as a vagabond that is “idle, lawless, vulgar and bad”. Huck was thrown together in rags a torn hat and his pants held up by one suspender. The kids in the town coveted how Huck behaved but their mothers disliked Huck. Huck meets Jim a runaway slave that shows the differences and similarities of how they were both raised. Jim was raised to care and treat others the same, but Huck was taught by the town that black people were only slaves. Jim does not only become Huck’s friend, but he becomes a father figure in a crucial moment of Huck’s life. Jim cooks and provides shelter for Huck and treats him like a parent should. Jim protects Huck from seeing his father’s corpse and shows empathy when he finds out about his father’s death. Huck sees Jim as a compassionate person, friend and human being unlike the others in the community where they only saw him as a slave. This shows that not all people in the south disliked African Americans, starting to show the social change during this time of the book. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way” (Twain 49). Huck is not pleased having to apologize to a black man, but he does it anyway. Although he apologized, he still is racist but not as racist as others in the south. At the end of chapter 14 Huck says to himself: “I see it warn’t no use wasting words, you can learn a n- to argue. So I quit. ” (Twain 104) Huck being very frustrated with the conversation beforehand, he makes fun of a black man’s mind, his way of learning and reason, showing more of southern peoples perspective on black people.

Pap Finn is Huck’s drunken father, who treats Huck terribly, his only method of parenting is physical abuse. Pap is not only a terrible father but a passionate racist, “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 n- vote, I drawed out. I says I’ll never vote agin, they all heard me, and they country may rot for all me, I’ll never vote agin as long as I live” (Twain 31-32). Pap only thinks whites should vote, that black people are only property and should not have the same rights. Therefore, once Huck finds Jim this shows Huck that a stranger is more willing to help a stranger than his own father. Along Jim and Huck’s journey you see how close and similar they are getting; the only differences would be their skin color. Shows how human beings are the same that during that time people judged just from skin color not from character. Jim wants to run away from slavery and Huck wants to run away from his father. Huck knows that helping slaves escape during that time is the worse crime you could commit even though he is doing the right thing. His decision to help Jim escape slavery shows his thoughts and beliefs of slavery and how he knows the consequences if he was to be caught.

The realism of slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was because Twain grew up in Missouri where although the state was not a part of the confederacy slavery was still legalized in the state. His parents owned slaves, but his wife’s parents were abolitionist, so he had multiple views of how the south looked at African Americans as people. “Well, I RECKON! There’s two hundred dollars reward on him. It’s like picking up money out’n the road” (Twain 202). This quote is important in the book because it shows how people saw runaway slaves as money. They looked at slaves as money and not like people, it shows the whites put a price on slaves which made them look like property. Another reason how injustice and racism is “And it was the n- I just expected it” (Twain 180). This quote was blaming black people with no evidence and punishing them for crimes they didn’t even do. Over the course of the novel, it shows that Huck’s friendship with Jim is strong enough to surpass race. At the beginning of the novel Huck was immature and childish, but throughout the journey with Jim, it allows him to grow up and see that race does not define character.

Works Cited

  1. Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Sirius, 2018.


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