A novel structured on the theme of morality, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain focuses on Huck Finn’s multifaceted growing up process. Huck, through his escapades and misfortunes is obliged to endure the agonizing process from childhood to adulthood where he attains self-knowledge and discovers his own identity. Throughout the journey down the Mississippi River, Jim, Ms. Watson’s runaway slave, accompanies Huck, and is later joined by two con men.
It is during this journey that a great moral crisis in Huck’s life occurs where he must make a painful decision as to whether he is going to give Jim up to the slave hunters or notify Ms. Watson about Jim’s whereabouts and assist him to remain a free man. This is the turning point in his character where through deep introspection, he learned to think and reason morally for himself. He comes to his own conclusions, unaffected by the accepted, and often hypocritical, perceptions of Southern culture.Order now
Huck also deciphers the truth in the face of lies held by the antagonistic society with its evil nature. From the very introduction of Huckleberry Finn in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck was known for his mastery of playing tricks on those gullible to his antics. In this novel, he played two tricks on Jim, enough to never make him do such a thing again. The first time as a joke, Huck puts a dead rattlesnake near Jim”s sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim. He learned for his own sake never to do that because it could have been him bitten by the snake.
However, the second prank Huck pulls on Jim unbeknownst to him does not seem to be as funny as he thought it would be when he pretended that the whole fog incident was a figment of Jim’s imagination. Jim was hurt by Huck and calls him trash, the exact turning point of Huck’s morality; he even had the decency to apologize, showing acceptance to a black man. As I quote from pages 83-84 “What do dey stan” for? I”se gwyne to tell you. 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”, en I didn” k”yer no” mo” what become er me en de raf”.
En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun”, de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo” foot, I”s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin” “bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren”s en makes “em ashamed. ” Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
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. ” As a reader, you can noticeably see the number of lies Huck tells, even conning a few people. However, you can understand the importance of his white lies that led to the protection of Jim against slave-hunters by telling them his “father was ill with the smallpox. Huck is also burdened with the fact that Jim considers him his best and only friend in the whole wide world, making him consciensously aware that he must now keep Jim protected under whatever circumstance. Pages 87-88 quotes Huck’s attempt at keeping the slave-hunters away from the raft. “â€¦”Only one, sir. ”
“Well, there”s five niggers run off to-night up , above the head of the bend. Is your man white or black? ” â€¦ “He”s white. ” “I reckon we”ll go and see for ourselves. ” “I wish you would,” says I, “because it”s pap that”s there, and maybe you”d help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. He”s sickâ€”and so is mam and Mary Ann. â€¦ “Set her back, John, set her back! ” says one. They backed water. “Keep away, boyâ€”keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us. Your pap”s got the small-pox, and you know it precious well. Why didn”t you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all over? ” Not only does he realize Jim is a human, but he also learns that telling a lie can actually do good deeds, depending on the purpose. Much of the novel consists of Huck lying to folks because conscientiously, he feels the need to help those in turmoil such as the robbers on the sinking boat, the daughters of dead Peter Wilks, and such.
This insight is part of Huck’s learning process as he finds that some of the things the he has been taught contradict what seems to be “right. ” The last and final straw that revealed Huck’s maturation was when he was contemplating whether or not he should write to Ms. Watson to notify that Jim was enslaved at the Phelps’. Page 206 “It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I”d got to, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
All right, then, I”ll GO to hell”â€”and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn”t. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
The social consequences of his actions had at one point been contemplated, rather than the lessons he learned about equality of men. He was also burdened with the thought that Ms. Watson had never done anything wrong to him and here he was helping her escaped slave. He decides to go to “hell” for helping a slave escape instead of following society’s cruel principles because he had already decided then he was not going to re-enter the civilized world. Although Jim is a slave, Huck has already learned to recognize Jim as a real human being with emotions and deep consideration for his family.
Because of these conclusions, he will do anything to fight for his friend’s rightful freedom. By the middle of the novel, anyone could believe that Huck Finn learned a great lesson of equality and made a complete 360 in becoming a new person. However, this is not so because from the time that Tom Sawyer, Huck’s friend from St. Petersburg, returns to the picture, Huck goes back to his indecent ways and disregards Jim as what he once believed him to be, an equal. They both toy around with Jim as they plan his escape from the Phelps.
In conclusion, his hard work to fight against the hypocritical ideals of society at the time came right back and sucked him into their beliefs, all to impress his friend. Once he comes back to living in their society, he would no longer feel like he would have a say in his way of life and ideals especially the fact that Aunt Sally was going to civilize him. This idea of being captivated and made to be civilized does not suit Huck, he plans to run away to the west to escape all that burdens him in this society.