The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is the story of a young southern boy and his voyage down the Mississippi River accompanied by a runaway slave named Jim. Throughout the journey Huck and Jim face numerous obstacles and encounter a variety of interesting characters. These experiences help Huck to develop physically, intellectually, and most importantly, morally. Throughout the long expedition, readers can observe Huck’s transformation from an immature boy with poor values and ethics, to a matured young man with a moral conscience and a heightened sense of what is right and what is wrong despite what society says.
At the beginning of Huck’s moral journey, Huck is no more than ...view middle of the document...
Similarly, yet more significantly, Huck’s second step in his moral journey occurs as Huck and Jim continue down the river and get separated in a thick fog. Eventually, Huck finds Jim and tries to convince Jim that their separation had just been a dream. However, Jim soon realizes that Huck is lying to him and he gets upset with Huck for making him seem like a fool. It is at this point that Jim calls Huck trash, and Huck begins to feel bad about tricking Jim. Huck says:
It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger;
but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean
tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d’ a’ knowed it would make him feel that way. (86)
Huck genuinely feels bad about tricking Jim. This shows Huck’s moral growth because earlier, when Huck tricked Jim with the rattlesnake skin, Huck hadn’t felt badly afterwards. However, after Huck’s most recent trick on Jim, Huck realizes that he has hurt one of the only people that care about him. Huck feels bad about hurting Jim and realizes that he cares about Jim just as Jim cares about him.
Despite the fact that Huck does indeed care about Jim, Huck soon faces a tremendous dilemma over whether he should turn Jim in as a runaway slave. This is a very important step in Huck’s moral journey because he is forced to contemplate the rules of society and the bonds of friendship. Society tells Huck that he has to turn Jim in, because it is a sin to help a slave escape. However, Huck is torn because of his feelings towards Jim and Jim’s exclamation of how Huck is his best, and only, friend. Eventually Huck decides to go against society yet again and when he is approached by two bounty hunters, Huck lies about who is with him on the raft and says, “He’s white.” (89) and he makes up a story about how his whole family on the raft is ill with smallpox, scaring the bounty hunters away and saving Jim.
As Huck and Jim continue down the river, they come across two men who claim to be a king and a duke. It is later revealed that the king and the duke are really con men. As Huck and Jim begin to be entangled in the king and duke’s scams, Huck becomes increasingly aware of the vulgarness of the con life. Huck begins to refer to the king and duke as “rapscallions” (153) and eventually feels ashamed to even associate with the two men. When the two con artists pretend to be the relatives of Mr. Peter Wilks, a recently deceased man, in order to collect the inheritance left to the real brothers of Mr. Wilks, Huck has had enough and is utterly disgusted and proclaims that the whole event “was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.” (162) Huck is repulsed by the king and duke’s actions and now looks down upon the con life, making this an important step in Huck’s moral growth.
During the course of the king and duke’s scam, the...