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Consideration On Religious Hypocrisy And Morals In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

2271 words - 10 pages

Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn told of a young boy who traveled south with a runaway slave, Jim, after escaping his father by means of a fake murder. In the myriad of misadventures, Huck observed many things, learned about himself and about the southern society, and dynamically changed as a person. Twain satirized the gullibility and the underdeveloped moral compass of the average southerner. Through this satire and characters in the novel, he discusses numerous topics including racism, treatment of the black population, of the female population and many more. The two most prominent themes that ran throughout the book included religion versus superstition and morals. Twain portrayed superstition as morally superior to Christianity through instances of Christian hypocrisy and that the actions of superstitious characters, including Huck and Jim, tend to be the ‘correct’ ones. In doing so, it demonstrates the religious hypocrisy, as well as general behaviors, of southern society.
According to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Christians are prone to religious hypocrisy. There are instances throughout the novel where religious hypocrisy can be easily found. For example, in chapter four, superstition and religion clashed when Miss Watson chided Huck for using superstition:
One morning I happened to turn over the saltcellar at breakfast. I reached for some of it as quick as I could to throw over my left shoulder and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me and crossed me off. She says, “Take your hands away Huckleberry; what a mess you are always making!” The widow put in a good word for me… (Twain, 15).
This particular event, in the very beginning of the novel, demonstrates how two people of the same religion can be opposites on the spectrum on how they treat people like Huck. On one side, unkind, severe Miss Watson, had in many cases, degraded Huck for not understanding the nuances of Christianity and often thought of Huck as a simpleton. On the other end, the kind widow, a much gentler person in terms of her beliefs, has more patience with Huck than Miss Watson does. It is important to note that when Huck goes against societal expectations; he fears that he would disappoint the widow. Twain portrayed Miss Watson as an unforgiving person, essential to strengthen the fact that most Christians in the book are religiously hypocritical. Later in the string of adventures, Huck found retreat with the Grangerford family after he lost Jim but very soon became distressed by the feud that they have with the Shepherdson family:
Next Sunday, we all went to church, about 3 mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; But everybody said it was a good sermon and they had talked it over going home, and had a...

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