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The Moral Development Of Huckleberry Finn

1034 words - 4 pages

Huck Finn, a narcissistic and unreliable young boy, slowly morphs into a courteous figure of respect and selflessness. After Pap abducts the young and civilized Huck, Huck descends into his old habits of lies and half-truths. However, upon helping a runaway slave escape, Huck regains morality and a sense of purpose. Throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck lies to characters, casting the authenticity of the story into doubt but illustrating Huck’s gradual rejection of lying for himself and a shift towards lying for others.
Huck rejects lying early in the novel, a testament to his successful training bestowed upon him by the Widow Douglass and other townspeople. Huck begins the story by lecturing the reader that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer contained lies about him, and that everyone has lied in his or her lives (11). Huck’s admittance of the lies contained in the previous book about him demonstrates his early dedication to truth in the novel. Later, Tom forces Huck to return to the Widow Douglass where he continues learning how to be “sivilized” (11). When Huck returns, the Widow Douglass teaches him the time when lying is appropriate, improving Huck’s sometimes unreliable moral directions. After Huck spends enough time with the Widow Douglass and her sister, Miss Watson, Huck begins enjoying the routine of his new life (26). Huck, a coarse character prior to the beginning of the novel, enjoys his education more and more, and displays promise for a cultured future. Prior to the arrival of Pap, Huck sells his money to Judge Thatcher avoiding telling his father a lie (27). Even though his father is an appalling man and an alcoholic, Huck respects him and avoids lying to him by selling Judge Thatcher his fortune, thus displaying the improved morals he has developed.
Soon after Huck encounters Pap, Pap kidnaps Huck, and Huck begins lying and serving himself rather than serve others. When Pap wakes with a gun pointed at his head, he confronts Huck about how the gun appeared there (40). Away from the safety of society, Huck must fabricate a lie to save his life, even though he must lie to his father. Life or death situations necessitate Huck’s lying. Before escaping from the cabin, Huck fakes his own death with pig blood, axe markings, and other signs (42-44). Huck commits an epic lie when he fakes his own death successfully; he lies to the entire town as well as to his father.
Following Huck’s escape from his father’s cabin, Huck escapes with Jim, rafting the Mississippi while he becomes his older self who helps others, a sharp contrast to the kidnapped Huck who only aided himself. When Huck encounters Judith Loftus, he lies, telling her that he is a girl by the name of Sarah Mary Williams, and later that he is a runaway apprentice called George Peters (69). Huck continues lying for himself, reflecting the depth of Huck’s descent while with his...

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