Essay, Research Paper: Adventures Of Huck Finn By Mark Twain

Literature: Mark Twain

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The conflict between society and the individual is a theme portrayed throughout
Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Huck was not raised in accord with the accepted ways
of civilization. He practically raises himself, relying on instinct to guide him
through life. As portrayed several times in the novel, Huck chooses to follow
his innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own instincts are
more moral than those of society. From the very beginning of Huck's story, Huck
clearly states that he did not want to conform to society; "The Widow
Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would civilize me . . . I got
into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied."
When Pap returns for Huck, and the matter of custody is brought before the
court, the reader is forced to see the corruption of society. The judge rules
that Huck belongs to Pap, and forces him to obey an obviously evil and unfit
man. One who drinks profusely and beats his son. Later, when Huck makes it look
as though he has been killed, we see how civilization is more concerned over
finding Huck's dead body than rescuing his live one from Pap. This is a society
that is more concerned about a dead body than it is in the welfare of living
people. The theme becomes even more evident once Huck and Jim set out, down the
Mississippi. Huck enjoys his adventures on the raft. He prefers the freedom of
the wilderness to the restrictions of society. Also, Huck's acceptance of Jim is
a total defiance of society. Ironically, Huck believes he is committing a sin by
going against society and protecting Jim. He does not realize that his own
instincts are more morally correct than those of society'. In chapter sixteen,
we see, perhaps, the most inhumane action of society. Huck meets some men
looking for runaway slaves, and so he fabricates a story about his father on the
raft with smallpox. The men fear catching this disease and instead of rescuing
him, they give him money and advise him not to let it be known of his father's
sickness when seeking help. These men are not hesitant to hunt slaves, yet they
refuse to help a sick man. This is contrasted to Huck's guilt felt for
protecting Jim when he actually did a morally just action. Huck's acceptance of
his love for Jim is shown in chapter thirty-one. Huck writes a letter to Miss
Watson to return Jim, yet he ends up ripping the letter and wishes to free Jim.
" 'All right, then, I'll go to hell'- and he tore it up." Here, we see
that Huck concludes that he is evil, and that society has been right all along.
The ending is perhaps most disappointing because it seems as though through all
the situations that it seemed he was growing up and accepting his innate ideas
of right, he hasn't grown at all. When he is reunited with Tom, he once again
thinks of Jim as property. Huck functions as a much nobler person when he is not
confined by the hypocrisies of civilization.
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