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.
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