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Huckleberry Finn Huck Verses Society

1367 words - 5 pages

Description of this essay : Paper on Huck vs. Society "Society" is perhaps the most powerful character that exists in all of literature and even in the modern world. Its influence of ideals has become so powerful that many follow it willingly, obeying the commands of a common culture without having to be instructed by any greater or superior authoritative figures. Mark Twain uses society, its social structure, and its influences as a character opposite of Huckleberry Finn. Throughout Huckleberry Finn, Huck is pitted against society's influence in his encounters with the strange, stereotypical people he meets along the Mississippi River. These people reflect many common social values, such as conformity, racism, and negligence of nightmares and frightening images; Huck, however, uses his individualism to avoid the cloud of society, relying on his instincts to guide him through life and fend off the nonsensical ideas which he chooses not to believe. As Huck departs on his journey, he intends to and does liberate himself from the reigns of society, using his strong individual character to overcome social barriers. Society, in return, chooses to ignore Huck and his individualism, removing him from the structure that Huck so desperately fears. He does, however, come to realize his status in relation to society, admitting it in his efforts to rescue Jim. Huck's instincts and individualism light the path to freedom for him and Jim - society's intolerance for his dissent liberates them from the hierarchy, just as Huck desires. As an adolescent child with strong desires for personal will and self-determination, Huck refutes the ideals of society and instead follows his instincts. He abides by his innate sense of right and wrong, making moral decisions which surpass the standards that society has set. Huck grew up on his own, uncivilized in manner and habit and detached from the structure and ideals of society. His actions show his dislike of conformation to society, particularly in response to the Widow Douglas who took him "for her son, and allowed she would sivilize [him]" (13). He felt "it was rough living in the house all the time", and did not enjoy "how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways" (13); Hucks rushes to escape, and after reuniting with his comfortable, ragged clothing, he "was free and satisfied" (13) with living his rugged lifestyle. The new clothes that the widow forces him to wear cause Huck to "sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up" (14), symbolic of the constriction he feels society has places on him. The restrictions appear again when Miss Watson scolds him and tells him not to put his feet up, to sit up straight, and to behave. Huck also rejects social concepts such as religion and racism. When the widow teaches him about Moses, he does not care at all about the biblical lesson, insistent that he "don't take no stock in dead people" (15). In the rural South of the mid-1800's, blacks were still considered...

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