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Societal Values Vs. Moral Instincts Essay

1028 words - 5 pages

On his many adventures, Huckleberry Finn encounters numerous situations in which his morality is tested or needs to be implemented. Huck has moral dilemmas to a degree, but he figures out the answer to his questions. He also figures out that sometimes, society has it all wrong, and that at times you just have to follow your heart. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Twain reveals that what is honorable is to follow your natural moral instincts, not what society and civilization say is moral.
From the beginning of the book, it is shown that Huck is forced to conform to what others think is best for him. Huckleberry was taken in by Widow Douglas because his dad wasn’t a part of his life anymore and he needed a parent figure. “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would civilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it any longer I lit out” (11). By trying to civilize Huckleberry, Widow Douglas was imposing what she assumed was best for him and wasn’t listening to what he thought or wanted. Huck was a very opinionated person and often spoke his mind with no remorse, which Widow Douglas didn’t like. “All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn’t particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she was going to live so as to go to the good place” (12). We see here Widow Douglas explaining to Huck how her way of life was the best and to get into “the good place”, or heaven, that he must live his life like hers. Twain portrays the widow as unpleasant and preachy to make it so the reader sympathizes with Huck as a young boy who needs to get out of the house. Widow Douglas isn’t the only guidance in Huck’s life; he is influenced by his father who is a drunk who abused Huckleberry, and also by Huck’s adventures with his gang of misfits. Not only does this quote reiterate the fact that Huckleberry has outside influences on how he should live his life but how he wishes he could escape from them.
Society starts to become a place in which Huckleberry wants to spend less and less time interacting with as he realizes the problems people create in the world. As Huck and Jim float farther down the river, Huck’s opinion of society becomes more defined in his own mind:
I hadn’t had a bite to eat since yesterday, so Jim he got out some corn-dodgers and buttermilk, and pork and cabbage and greens—there ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right—and whilst I eat my supper we talked and had a good time. . . .We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and...

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