The novel: The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn
The novel The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain is an exciting book that describes the story of a young boy and his friend Jim. Huckleberry Finn, who is the protagonist in this tale, is a young boy who enjoys his immature life to the fullest. Playing pranks, going on adventures and running away from society are part of his daily thrill.
At first sight it might seem that Huckleberry Finn might be an uneducated boy who has no interest or probability of growing mature. However, throughout the story the immature boy has plenty of encounters which strengthen his character and lead him from boy- to manhood.
Huckleberry Finn, the son of a known drunk in town, is already able to look back at some exciting adventures and a chaotic and disobedient lifestyle. As he was taken under the wings of the widow Douglas. He lived in her nice house with the intentions of making him an acceptable figure of the american society. After three months Huckeberry Finn cannot take, living a high social life, full of annoying expectations, that he eventually leaves the town St. Petersburg. On his way to freedom and away of authority he gets to know Jim. A colored slave who also escaped from his owner because he was about to be sold to a new plantation owner. They become friends and start to head down the Mississippi river on a self-made raft.
On which they experience a bunch crazy adventures, sometimes even dramatic ones. While on their trip Huck basically only experiences fraud, theft and lies as he runs into his father and a clever couple of swindlers. He soon notices that justice, faith and humanity is only presented as a camouflage. At the end of their travels Huckleberry Finn and Jim meet Tom Sawyer and eventually return back to St. Petersburg. In the town Huck would again have the possibility of receiving a normal life and a bright future, but once more he decides not to stay. He wants to travel to the west, far far away from the newly experienced reality on his adventures. Huck is being presented as an all-knowing narrator, with corresponding commentary, but also as a naive boy who is going through a time of character strengthening and development in his life.
The novel, which was written by Mark Twain, soon showed to be one of the greatest american works in recent literary history. In the beginning of the writing phase of the book, it was at first solely seen as a continuance of Tom Sawyer, because the reader can tell that Huckleberry Finn has similar thinking styles as his Tom. But soon one will realize that Huck is a class by itself and showed himself as a strong character which can stand by himself and make the whole story of the novel worthwhile. The author includes in the novel things that have really happened his his live and the lives of some of his friends.
Furthermore, Mark Twain grew up in a time period of slavery which build his character while growing up. Therefore Huckleberry Finn as a character in he novel cannon simply be seen as a fictional figure but more as a person description which was drawn from real life people and events. I think that that is an important fact to know, because it adds more credibility to the main character of the novel. And one is able to believe changes that he goes through during his adventures with Jim are real and can be drawn to real life situations.
Now let’s get to asses the main character of the novel and how his status changes during the course of the story. Many readers of the book ‘The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn’ ask themselves whether Huck is a character that went through changes and developed as the story went on, or whether he is a character that is static and does not change at all in his believes and actions. But in agreement with many scholars and critics the character of Huckleberry Finn is changing and developing.
One can basically say that he is a character that grows from boy- to manhood. He is becoming more independent as he is able to witness many harsh realities that one faces in an adult life. Even though Huck does experience these things and does develop into more maturity some of his childish characteristics are still present in the final evaluation of the character. Following I will further discuss the development of the character of Huckleberry Finn and which events lead me to believe that he is a character that changes, and how these events are capable of strengthening the relationship between him and his new friend , the runaway slave Jim.
The whole story is being narrated in the first person and Huckleberry Finn is the narrator. So, the reader is able to witness the changes though the inner eyes of a little boy which experiences new things in life. By sharing as he seem them occur and by interpreting them in his own words and thoughts. Which is interesting for the reader because he basically has a front row seat to what is happening to the character and how he is changing. Because of this narration style there are no outer descriptions of the character throughout the novel. Meaning, that there are no other people evaluating and describing the character to us, the readers, in the story. All we witness are Huck’s own words and thoughts. In other words, one can say that the character is being fully described as the story is being told from the beginning to the end. Huck went through a very tough childhood, which shaped him to the person he is.
He grew up without a mother and his father was drinking all the time, which is the reason he often was not at home and was not able to take care of Huck. The main character also never had the chance to go to school and therefore is an illiterate and has not learned much in his life, yet. One day in the story a widow named, Douglas sees the character of Huck and is determined to help him get his life straightened out. She want him to go to school and wear proper attire. As well as going to church, teaching him manners and how to read and write. Huck on the other side does not like the fact that people are trying to change the way he is used to doing things and cannot adapt to the way society want him to be presented. The realization that Huckleberry cannot adapt to the changes and fit in with the people that he is surrounded by now, give him reason to flee from his miserable situation.
Even though he does get to wear clean clothes and gets to eat every day, are not good enough reasons for him to stay and his wish for freedom is even stronger. That is why he takes on the long journey down the Mississippi river. On that specific trip down the river Huckleberry Finn feels completely free from obligations and has a great time doing whatever he want to do. He feels very comfortable floating down the river and just relaxing on the raft, while not being in contact with anybody else and it is just himself and the nature surrounding him. But soon Huck realizes why he is so comfortable floating on the river. To him it seems that every time he get off of the raft and lands on shore he is exposed to society, which is only cruel and he does not like that. One night he went away from the river and witnesses a fight that happened in a family house. He was mad that he saw that unreasonable conflict and noticed that he did not want to be part of such things. That is why he stays on the river as long as possible so he can be free.
During his travel alone and after he meets Jim he goes through some moral struggles. He has to deal with the fact that society wants him to act and handle things in a certain way, but he personally seems to stuggle with the decisions of doing what he believes is right. It is hard fro him to decide how to act in front of Jim, whether it is right or wrong to help him in certain situations. The new decisions that he makes and the way he handles those struggles he has with himself and society show that he is developing as a character. The first time that Huckleberry Finn has an own feeling that he is doing something wrong and seeing where society’s views are different. When Jim and Huck are about to float past the city of Cairo and Huck somehow realizes that he is helping a slave escape from his master. He know that, that is an unacceptable fact in the society he lived with for a little while.
So, after assessing the situation Huck is determined to tell on Jim and hand him out to the next white slave holder. Bus as soon as he is about to start moving the raft towards shore Jim tells him how thankful he is that Huck helped him run away, and that he is the only person he ever met that did not break a promise that was made to him. At that statement Huck’s mindset changes again and when he is ashore and has the opportunity to give Jim away does the opposite and keeps his mouth shut. Huck notices how much Jim depends on his and realizes that he trusts him a lot. Futhermore he sees that he might be the only person to ever help Jim reach freedom, which is also what Huck strived for as he ran away from St. Petersburg.
Now both characters have something in common, the longing for freedom. The change in Huckleberry’s decision can be seen that he is gaining a feeling for compassion and is maturing in character. But as soon as the narrator gets back on he raft he realizes that he is not one hundred percent happy about the decision he has made. He know that he helped Jim but still understands that he has done wrong in the eyes of society.
Another example of a situation where the main character, Huckleberry Finn, gets a chance to develop his character is when he has to decide between friendship and society. This time Huck is again determined to go by society’s ways and tell on Jim. He is back in St. Petersburg, alone, and wants to tell Mrs. Watson where her runaway slave is. Also, this time the decision is even harder to be made by Huck than the first time while he was traveling on the river. At this point he had spend even more time with Jim and experienced great things with him and had a good time hanging out with Jim. Huck wrote a letter, where he admits helping Jim and telling his location. Only again to reconsider the whole situation as he thought about the great times he had with Jim.
Jim was now an even closer friend than he was while still on the way downstream. He recognized that Jim is not merely a slave, but a person with character and a good heart. Both characters finally have met somebody whom they can trust. That thought process makes Huck decide not to tell on Jim anymore. Even though he still continues to accept the fact that he is doing something really wrong in the eyes of society. This even really shows how the character of the narrator has changed and developed.
He disobeys society’s rules to help his friend find freedom. For Huck, Jim is now more important than society’s negative judgment on him. Huckleberry further explains that he would ‘rather go to hell’ is society’s eyes than to tell on Jim.
All things considered, the above mentioned examples should be proof enough for a reader to recognized that the main character, Huckleberry Finn, does go through some positive changes in his character. He has developed from a boy like thinking to a more complex human being, which can now determine on his own what is right or wrong, by the process of understanding what is acceptable in the eyes of society and what is acceptable in Huck’s own moral standings.
At the end of the novel Huck is able to make a decision on his own, not by merely disobeying and doing the exact opposite of what he was told to do. But understanding the difference of right and wrong and making a judgmental decision, while including his own values, morals and believes. The character is now able to make decisions based on two different sources. His own mind evaluations of a certain situation, and society’s accepted ways.
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