Essay, Research Paper: Adventures Of Huck Finn

Literature: Mark Twain

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All children have a special place, whether chosen by a conscious decision or not
this is a place where one can go to sort their thoughts. Nature can often
provide comfort by providing a nurturing surrounding where a child is forced to
look within and choices can be made untainted by society. Mark Twain once said
"Don't let school get in the way of your education." Twain states that
this education which is provided by society, can actually hinder human growth
and maturity. Although a formal education shouldn't be completely shunned,
perhaps true life experience, in society and nature, are a key part of
development. In the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain throws the
curious yet innocent mind of Huck Finn out into a very hypocritical, judgmental,
and hostile world, yet Huck has one escape--the Mississippi River constantly
flowing nearby. Here nature is presented as a thought provoking environment when
experienced alone. The river is quiet and peaceful place where Huck can revert
to examine any predicament he might find himself in: "They went off, and I
got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low…Then I thought a minute, and says to
myself, hold on,- s'pose you'd a done right and give Jim up; would you felt
better than you do now? No, says I, I'd feel bad…" (p.127). Only a few
weeks with Jim and still feeling great ambivalence, Huck returns to the river to
think. Twain tries here to tell the reader how strong the "mob" really
is, and only when totally alone is Huck able to make the morally correct
decision. The natural flowing and calm of the river cause this deep-thought,
show! ing how unnatural the collective thought of a society can be. The largest
and most obvious test of Huck's character is his relationship with Jim. The
friendship and assistance which he gives to Jim go completely against all that
"sivilization" has taught him; at first this concept troubles Huck and
causes him a great deal of pain, but over time, through his life experiences and
shared times with Jim, Huck crosses the line upheld by the racist South and
comes to know Jim as a human being. Huck is at a point in his life where
opinions are formed, and by growing on the river, Huck can stand back from
society and form his own. Eventually he goes as far as to risk his life for
Jim:"And got to thinking of our trip down the river; and I see Jim before
me, all the time, in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight,
sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing.
But somehow I couldn't see no places to harden me against him, but only the
other kind…I studied a minute sort of holding my breath, and then I s! ays to
myself: 'All right, then, I'll go to hell'…" (pp.270-271). After a long
and thought-provoking adventure, Huck returns to the raft one final time to
decide the fate of his friend. Symbolically, Huck makes the morally correct
decision away from all others, thinking on the river. Although it might not be
evident to himself, Huck causes the reader to see that "sivilization",
in their treatment of blacks especially, is not civilized at all. Every person
Huck and Jim come across seems to just be following someone else blindly, as the
whole country were some sort of mob. In the last few chapters, Tom Sawyer is
re-introduced and the reader is left to examine how different environments:
"sivilization" and nature (the river), have affected the children's
growth. It is distinctly evident that Huck has turned out to be the one with a
clear and intelligent mind, and Tom, although he can regurgitate worthless facts
about Louis XVI and Henry VIII, shows no real sign of maturity. "The first
time I catched up to Tom, private, I asked him what was his idea, time of the
evasion?- what it was he planned to do if the evasion worked out all right and
he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before? And he said, what
he had planned in his head, from the start, if we got Jim out, all safe, was for
us to run him down the river, on the raft, and have adventures plumb to the
mouth…" (p.360). Huck has always thought of Tom as more intelligent than
himself, but he cannot understand how Tom could toy with Jim's life in such a
way. For much time, Huck is! without the river and it is though his mind clouds;
he follows along with Tom playing a sick game until the end when he is once
again threatened with being "sivilized". "But I reckon I got to
light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because aunt Sally she's going to
adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before"
(p.362). Huck's adventure, if nothing else, has given him a wary eye towards
"sivilized" society. When the prospect of settling down with Sally is
presented he light's out for the Territory to distance himself from a
restrictive, formal education. Twain ends his novel by setting Huck up for a new
experience and personal growth. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn taught an
important lesson, one that showed the importance of the self in the maturing
process. We saw Huck grow up by having the river as a place of solitude and
thought, where he was able to participate in society at times, and also sit back
and observe society. Through the child's eye we see how ignorant and mob-like we
can all be. Then nature, peace, and logic are presented in the form of the river
where Huck goes to think. Though no concise answer is given, the literature
forces the reader to examine their surroundings, and question their leaders.
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