Essay, Research Paper: Adventures Of Huck Finn Description

Literature: Mark Twain

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In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, the main
character enters a transitional period of his life. This character, Huckleberry
Finn, faces many situations. Such as “Humble myself to a nigger”(95),
forcing him to deal with decisions that carry with them the ability to bring
about change. Since transition can be defined as the process of entering change,
Huck begins searching for an identity which is truly his own. “All I wanted
was a change”(2). In determining his self image, Huck deals with conformity
and freedom by riding of his own identity, trying on different identities that
do not belong to him, and shaping these new found tributes into an identity
which best suits his conscience. “’Is I me, or who is I?’”(93). The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn begins with Huck under the care of Widow Douglas.
"She took me for her son, and allowed that she would civilize me; but it
was rough living in the house all the time"(1). Huck has become so used to
being free that he sees the Widow Douglas' protection as confinement. Huck finds
this unacceptable because he loses his freedom amongst "The bars and
shackles of civilization"(17). Huck wants to rid the shackles Widow Douglas
place on Huck. He wants to be “Comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and
no books nor study”(27). Huck feels that he belongs out under the stars and in
nature, where the community cannot bound him. Huck then faces the return of his
drunkard father. When Huck's father comes back to the town, he only intends to
steal money from his son. “’I ain’t heard nothing but about you being
rich. That's why I come. You get me that money tomorrow-I want it’"(23).
Huck's own father does not feel one bit inclined to treat his son with respect.
Then his father takes him to a log cabin deep in the woods and Huck once again
faces confinement; “He always locked the door and put the key under his
head”(26). Huck's escape, flight, and the changing of his identity are his
only release from being in the log cabin. Then after escaping from it all, Huck
is left with his freedom. The raft on which Huck and Jim travel demonstrates one
of symbols of freedom in the story. To Huck, the raft seems to be the safest
place that brings freedom on which he can grow and experience life. “You feel
mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft”(128). However, when duke and
king enter the scene, the raft is no longer free. King and duke rob Huck and Jim
of their isolation from society and the real world. The only way Huck can escape
from society is to rid himself of his own identity. He attempts to slip into the
identities of others to experience things in a different way than they normally
would be. Huck's longing for freedom is his only self desire. His freedom
requires that he find a conscious, moral identity. He must discover his true
self and know himself as a person and as an individual in order to be free.
However, other characters in the story put on different identities for much
different reasons than Huck. Huck learns from these peoples' downfalls. One
example would be king and duke. “They made a body ashamed of the human
race”(178). Huck learns from them that there comes a time when to draw the
line and when lying becomes unnecessary. King and duke both put up fake
identities in order to scam people of their money. Huck discovers the truth
about king and duke but he feels that "If they wanted us to call them kings
and dukes, I hadn't no objections, long as it would keep peace"(137). Huck
feels this way because he learned from his father that "The best way to get
along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way"(138).
Throughout the experiences on Huck's journey, his identity slowly adapts to his
conscience. One aspect of his identity which appears earlier on in the book is
his religion. Huck has learned to adapt to the views of society and to make them
into what he feels is right according to his conscience. An example of this is
when Huck talks about turning Jim in and decides "All right then, I'll go
to hell"(89), when he ends up deciding that he does not want to turn him
in. Huck actually improves his conscience by refusing to turn Jim in. However,
Huck thinks that he is making it worse. Huck has no self-conscious sense of the
change that has occurred in himself. All of this reveals Huck's deformed
conscience because he thinks he is doing wrong when he is really doing the right
thing. Also, the subject of Jim and black people as a whole causes some change
in Huck. At the beginning of the story, Huck does not even think blacks are
human, but throughout Huck and Jim's journey along the river together, Huck
learns otherwise. At one point, Huck even "Goes and humbles himself to a
nigger"(95), and another time he promises to keep the reason why Jim ran
away a secret even though "People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and
despise me for keeping mum"(98). These are some of the many examples
throughout the story that show us that Huck really cares for Jim and that he
truly changes his views of blacks. Even though Huck knows that black people are
not supposed to be respected, Huck cannot go against what he feels is right and
gives Jim the respect that he deserves. Throughout this journey, Huck encounters
many different situations in which he learns to adapt and react to each in a way
that he feels suitable. Huck learns his own morals and finds his own truths.
“’I knows what I knows’”(86). Huck learns about life and the real world.
He observes how cruel and heartless the human race is. He then gathers what he
has learned and combines it into an identity which suits him. Huck knows that
the way he was made him “Ashamed of the human race”(178). This enables him
to create a conscience with which he finds himself comfortable. Huck finding
himself really did cause a struggle considering all that he had to accomplish in
order to do so. Huck overcomes obstacles to find his identity. In the end, “He
done it”(272).
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