The Moral Maturation of Huckelberry Finn
A novel structured on the theme of morality, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain focuses on Huck Finn’s multifaceted growing up process. Huck, through his escapades and misfortunes is obliged to endure the agonizing process from childhood to adulthood where he attains self-knowledge and discovers his own identity. Throughout the journey down the Mississippi River, Jim, Ms. Watson’s runaway slave, accompanies Huck, and is later joined by two con men. It is during this journey that a great moral crisis in Huck’s life occurs where he must make a painful decision as to whether he is going to give Jim up to the slave hunters or notify Ms. Watson about Jim’s whereabouts and assist him to remain a free man. This is the turning point in his character where through deep introspection, he learned to think and reason morally for himself. He comes to his own conclusions, unaffected by the accepted, and often hypocritical, perceptions of Southern culture. Huck also deciphers the truth in the face of lies held by the antagonistic society with its evil nature.
From the very introduction of Huckleberry Finn in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huck was known for his mastery of playing tricks on those gullible to his antics. In this novel, he played two tricks on Jim, enough to never make him do such a thing again. The first time as a joke, Huck puts a dead rattlesnake near Jim's sleeping place, and its mate comes and bites Jim. He learned for his own sake never to do that because it could have been him bitten by the snake. However, the second prank Huck pulls on Jim unbeknownst to him does not seem to be as funny as he thought it would be when he pretended that the whole fog incident was a figment of Jim’s imagination. Jim was hurt by Huck and calls him trash, the exact turning point of Huck’s morality; he even had the decency to apologize, showing acceptance to a black man. As I quote from pages 83-84
"What do dey stan' for? I'se gwyne to tell you. When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could a got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin' 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie. Dat truck dah is TRASH; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."
Then he got up slow and walked to the wigwam, and went in there without saying anything but that. But that was enough. It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed HIS foot to get him to take it back.
It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would...