Examining Huck Finn's Moral Growth Essay

2039 words - 9 pages

Samuel Clemens - or as he is most commonly referred to as, Mark Twain - was a seminal American novelist, with his works not only contributing to the general American literary canon, but in fact, greatly inspiring other such elemental writings. Twain is, perhaps, most remembered by the quintessential work, The Adventure’s of Huckleberry Finn, in which the eponymous character travels down the Mississippi River with his close friend, and runaway slave, Jim. In doing so, the two experience Twain’s satirical, yet quite realistic, interpretation of the South, while Huck, consequently, experiences a drastic change in terms of his own morality. When considering this novel’s content from a literary ...view middle of the document...

I reckoned he believed in the A-rabs and the elephants, but as for me I think different.” (14) Therefore, by contrasting Huck’s newfound maturity with Tom’s lack thereof, Twain has established the novel as a study of the former’s progress into adulthood.

While being quite boyish, Huck also lacked a clear sense of morality, for it seems to be that he hardly considered the implications of his actions. This behaviour is quite evident when Huck, at this time hiding with Jim on Jackson’s Island, “found a rattlesnake in [the cave]... killed him, and curled him up on the foot of Jim’s blanket”, thereby precipitating his mate to return and bite Jim; fortunately, Huck addresses this immaturity by saying, “[t]hat all comes of my being a such a fool as to not remember that wherever you leave a dead snake its always comes there and curls around it.” (52) Thus, not only was Huck childish in that he failed to examine the possible outcomes of his actions, but that he seemingly possessed no moral qualms with placing his only companion in harm’s way. However, this incident does demonstrate that Huck is beginning to mature, as he does mention that he’d been, “such a fool” to endanger Jim so thoughtlessly. Furthermore, Huck’s decision to explore the grounded steamboat simultaneously depicts his carelessness and his difficulty to fully establish a complete sense of self--as is depicted through his need to compare himself to Sawyer: “I can’t rest, Jim, till we give her a rummaging. Do you reckon reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing… He’d call it an adventure”. (67)

Despite having come across thieves upon this aforementioned steamboat, and having thereby threatened the lives of Jim and himself alike, Huck remains quite able to inflict harm - whether mentally or physically - unto Jim. This immaturity is further reflected in Huck’s response to Jim after the two had been separated, and thus quite anxiety ridden, by a large fog. Essentially, he told Jim that the two had never parted ways and that the incident was merely a dream of his. However, Jim is not deceived for long and says, “when I wake up en fine yiy ag’in, all safe en soun’, de tears come… I’s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin’ ‘bout wuz how you could make a fool uv old Jim wid a lie.” (85) Nevertheless, and much unlike before, it seems that Huck was greatly affected by this an inconsiderate act, and expresses that, “[i]t made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back… I didn’t do him no more mean tricks”. (86) From this point onwards, Huck’s morality slowly reaches a point of great contention, as although he may retain much of the fallible notions possessed by his younger self, he shall also demonstrate a large degree of progress.

The moral conflict depicted in Chapter 16 is, arguably, unrivaled by those of any other. Here Huck reveals that he had, “got to feeling so mean and so miserable” once the reality of Jim’s escape had grown near. (87) Due to...

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