My Lithogy Essay Research Paper Shock Therapy

My Lithogy Essay, Research Paper

Shock Therapy for Americans: You are Huck and he is no Hero

In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, author Mark Twain comments

on the ills of postbellum Southern society through his development of the character

Huckleberry Finn and his relationship with Jim, a runaway slave. The two characters

both run from injustices and are distrustful of the society around them. Huck is an

uneducated backwoods boy on the run from his abusive father, constantly under pressure

to conform to the “civilized” surroundings of society. Jim is a slave and so is not

considered a person, but property. He is trying to escape to the North where he will

purchase his family?s freedom when Huck stumbles upon him on Jackson Island and

decides to help him. In doing so, Twain is setting the stage for Huck to be the hero of the

novel. He does this for specific reasons. One of which is he draws us into the story more

with each chapter so that the unexpected ending where Huck does not turn out to be the

hero makes us question why Twain would employ such an ending. The surprise ending

quells all support that Huck is the hero of the novel. It is obvious he is not and that the

story actually lacks a genuine hero. In relation to this, Huck could be seen as

representation of Southern society and its evolution throughout and beyond the era of

slavery. Twain does not end the novel in the predictable manner we would think he

would in order to show by example how such a story would really have ended during and

even after the slavery period.

Twain wants us to believe that Huck and Jim become friends purely because of

coincidence. This is evident the first time Huck and Jim meet and in the manner in

which Twain develops their relationship for the majority of the novel. Huck is always

struggling with his conscience over whether or not helping Jim is just. After much time

together, Huck begins to truly love Jim as a person and so cannot just turn him into the

proper authorities as if he was property. On the other hand, Huck cannot shed his racial

prejudices very easily. This conflict is manifest when Huck ponders whether or not he

should turn Jim in because he adamantly believes in his heart that it is the right thing to

do but he also cannot deny the kinship he has with the person. ?I was letting on to give

up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all.? Huck decides

not to turn him in but does so only after coming to terms with the consequences: he

believes that he is going to go to hell. ?[I] says to myself: ?All right, then, I?ll go to

hell’-and tore [the note] up.? Because it is not Huck who gets Jim his freedom but his

deceased owner, Miss Watson, all of Huck?s previous efforts were futile, discounting

Huck?s heroic role.

Twain struggled to write an ending that brought together and summed up all of

the ideas of the novel. After failing to wrap up the book with the Shephardson and

Grangerford episode, Twain creates the Phelp?s plantation affair to finally finish the

story. In this final third of the novel, Huck?s role undergoes a metamorphosis that strips

him of his title of the hero and slides him back into his skeptical, independent mindset

that he possessed at the onset of the novel. Huck has no doubt that what he is doing for

Jim is a sin. Twain uses Huck as a tool to show us that there were no white heroes for

slaves in the South. Huck, like every single White Southerner, believed that

African-Americans were truly inferior and so justified slavery. Twain gives Huck this

internal conflict to show that although the South progressed in freeing all slaves, it could

not forget the racial prejudices present in every Southerner?s mind. This racism is

ingrained in Huck?s conscience, ?It would get all around, that Huck Finn helped a nigger

to get his freedom; and if I was to ever see anybody from that town again, I?d be ready to

get down and lick his boots for shame.?

The clash between slavery and freedom in Huck?s mind alludes to the extremely

racist views of the White Southern population. Twain shows us that although the U.S.

has technically advanced political conscience it cannot shed the way of life that has

become innate to the minds of her people. He is trying to express his great sorrow for the

lack of effect of the abolition on American thought. The emancipation did not eradicate

racism, only slavery. It, in fact, further exacerbated racial tensions. Twain grieves this

mangled construe of the pure intentions of the removal of slavery from Southern society.

Mark Twain wrote this novel in an attempt to dispel the popular belief that there were no

problems in the South; that Whites and Blacks coexisted in peace. For the first two

thirds of the novel, Mark Twain offers a us an ideal view of Southern with the specific

objective to rip that fantasy from our minds and make us realize the innumerable woes of

society at the time. We as readers tend to associate ourselves with heroes. Twain created

Huck in his image of Southern society and cast him as the role of the hero so that we

would develop a strong link with him throughout the novel, which in turn would shock us

much more. The more the shock, the more we analyze things. That was Twain?s motive

in writing this piece, he wanted to shock society into seeing its problems.



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