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The Growth Of Morality Concealed Under Deception

1162 words - 5 pages

A wise British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, once claimed, “The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation” ("Jeremy Bentham Quotes”). Throughout the period of American Realism, society struggled in following the heart to reach a higher mortality. Following the Civil War, people found themselves in confusion with their beliefs surrounding slavery, and their morals greatly diminished. More people began to conform to the white southern racist beliefs. Realist authors and artists such as Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Laurence Dunbar expose the complicated reality through their works. These works revealed that one’s moral development was formed by ...view middle of the document...

Huck, in the beginning, saw Jim as property and an ignorant slave. Huck learned to dehumanize slaves because they are considered property and not actually human beings. As Huck began to form a relationship with Jim, he soon learned that Jim has feelings too, just like any white person, and Huck soon saw Jim as a friend. At the end of the novel, Huck views Jim as an equal to himself when he says, “I know'd he was white inside” (Twain 207). When Huck makes the decision that he wants to help free Jim, “Huck overcomes his ‘conscience,’ which, formed by a racist society, tells him this act is wrong, to reach a higher morality” (“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”). Huck realizes his opinions on Blacks appeared from the external sources in his life influencing his racist morals. As Huck came across untruthful and deceitful characters, like the Duke and King, Huck’s growth became evident and he began to point out flaws of these characters. Disgusted to see the Duke and King impersonate the brothers of a dead man, Huck said “It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race” (Twain 157). Huck’s moral growth is mainly contributed to the result of following his heart.
Throughout the novel, Huck Finn’s conscious wrestles with his sound heart in many situations, especially when he deals with the issue of turning Jim in as a slave. It is not easy for Huck to make reasonable decisions, especially when “the voices of Pap, the widow and Miss Watson, and even Tom are in constant dialogue within him and speak Huck into action as he employs practical wisdom” (Boone). Pap, his drunk absent father, Miss Watson, his hypocritical religious guardian and Tom Sawyer, his mischievous immature friend, lead Huck into nothing but troubling situations. In the beginning of the book, the pressure from these characters persuades Huck to base his decisions on the conscience of a southern white person. As time goes on, Huck begins to form his own opinions surrounding slavery, based on what his heart tells him the moral outcome would be. Huck struggles with the idea of turning Jim in or not multiple times throughout the book. Huck’s deformed conscience advises him to write Mrs. Watson, Jim’s owner, a letter telling her where Jim is because it is the reasonable thing to do. However, Huck’s heart tells him that slavery is morally wrong. In the end, he decides to...

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