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Individual Versus Society In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

1463 words - 6 pages

Mark Twain published his novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as a response to problems he saw in modern society. The reader is able to see many different distinct themes throughout the novel. From the very beginning of the book, Huck was different from the rest of society and had his own thoughts about how things should be done. Huck didn't want to wear clothes, study religion, or want to be “sivilized”. Widow Douglas attempted to conform Huck to the ways of society, but he decided to break free and live his life under his own individual law. Huck and Jim escape from society on a raft; both having different reasons for escaping. Huck is fond of Jim but he is worried that he is breaking the law by helping a runaway slave. One hand tells him to return Jim to Miss Watson, the other says to help Jim escape. On the raft, Jim and Huck can be themselves, which mainly consists of: being naked, being talkative and being free of social norms. This paradise doesn't last for very long as the Duke and king find our friends on the raft. Jim gets sold into slavery again when king sells him to go drink. On Huck's new adventure to free his friend Jim, he reunites with Tom Sawyer, who surprisingly accepts Huck's morals and helps him steal Jim in an extravagant, "by the book", way. At the end of the novel, after everything is resolved, Huck is already prepared to embark on his next adventure away from “sivilization" in the west. Mark Twain satirizes things like organized religion, norms of modern civilization, usefulness of education, slavery and family feuds, to show his readers that the morals that society holds, might not be so moral after all. The reader discovers that Huck's morals are much higher than those that society holds. Huck was not the only one thinking that way; Mark Twain himself was different from the rest of the society at his time. Throughout the novel, Twain illustrates the struggle between individual and society using the character, Huckleberry Finn.
Slavery was an institution accepted by the society. People owned, sold, traded and exploited slaves every day. Jim manages to run away from Miss Watson, and Huck manages to runaway from Pap. Twain uses this to show us that they both ran away from slavery, Jim from the real one and Huck from the society that is trying to enslave and conform him. Critic Richard Barkdale agrees with me in his work “The Irony of an 'Uncivilized' Friendship”, when he says that “By bringing back runaway Jim into close association with white runaway Huck, Twain obviously desired to explore the ironic implications of such an association in s “sivilization” riddled by racist division and prejudice”(Barkdale 126). When Huck decided to help Jim, he realized that society would “call me down abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum” ( Twain 62), but Finn's own individual code won over the guilt of going against the society. It is clear that Huckleberry is one of few people that thinks that way, because throughout...

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