Huck Finn Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the great American novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there is a great controversy about natural goodness and the definition society provides for us. Many feel that Huck helping Jim escape is the right thing to do. Yet, at this time, what he did was very wrong and unaccepted. Although society tells him he is wrong, Huck s natural goodness wins the battle against conscience every time.
Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua stated that Huckleberry Finn has a great transformation into self-esteem (Chadwick-Joshua 62). Twain s work was significant in that it brought the ideas of African Americans to a wide audience they could not hope to reach (62). As Huck could not, neither can we jump arbitrarily from his discovery of Jim as a regular, visible human being in the novel s first section to his truly profound assertion at the conclusion of the midsection when he decides to continue to protect Jim. All right, then, I ll go to hell (Twain 272). How does Huck come to consciously yield up his soul for his changed belief? To grow with Huck, we must understand his affection and his nineteenth-century sense of loyalty and moral rightness and, more importantly, his unwavering, consistent, indomitable respect for Jim as a human being, a man, a mentor whose voice must ultimately supersede the voices of the widow, Miss Watson, Judge Thatcher, and the whole South. For a real transformation to take place, Huck s allegiance to Jim must develop to the degree that he feels compelled to act (66). Throughout this novel, we can see that Huck treats Jim fairly. Huck treats him as another man, no one special but no one inferior. Huck was ahead of his time; he was a fair person when no one else was. His heart took control and went against all of his teachings. Rightly or wrongly, we initially judge the narrative suspect. Opponents usually assume the characters to be stereotypes or caricatures (4). The world sees this as an enslaved black man traveling with a free white man. Jim treats Huck with respect, but Huck treats Jim as an equal.
The people in Huckleberry Finn are not bad because they believe in slavery that is how they were raised. Throughout the novel we see how they treated slaves and we also see that they are raised this way. Many of them only act this way because no other way would be accepted. But there are the few strong ones, like Huck, who do what they believe in. Arthur Pettit, who wrote Mark Twain and the South, stated a quote that made a lot of sense. Two types of white Southerners largely populate the novel: good ones who have been partially warped by their environment and bad ones who have been totally twisted by it Pap represents the lowest mudsill type of Southerner he is permanently etched on the reader s conscienceness Aunt Polly, the Widow Douglas, Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally Phelps, even Sister Hotchkiss all have a redeeming side. They read the Bible regularly, feed the boys homemade jam, set supper tables in summer breezeways, and preach Sunday sermons down on corner lots of their one-horse plantations By and large they know right from wrong; but this is precisely what locks them into a moral dilemma over slavery. Repeatedly Mark Twain drives home the irony that to be a Southerner in good standing, one must preach good and practice evil (83). This novel is filled with Southerners who contradict themselves over the concept of slavery. Huck is really the only innocent one that we meet in this novel. He takes the Bible literally and follows it with his heart and soul. Huck was right all along because he was not a hypocrite like the others. They all preached one thing and then acted out a different. Huck follows his heart over his conscience. Pap was the one who was most prejudiced and the most stubborn. He was not able to even open his eyes a little to see what was going on in the world around him. Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why looky here. There was a free nigger there from Ohio they said he was a p fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain t the wust. They said he could vote when he was home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was lection day and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn t too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they d let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I ll never vote agin . the country may rot for all me-I ll never vote agin as long as I live (Twain 36).
Norris W. Yates writes, Huck s struggle with his decision to go to hell rather than to assist in returning Jim to servitude. The manner in which Huck s inner conflict dramatizes the specifically religious elements in that society has been little more than mentioned (quoted in Bloom 44). Many scholars have said that Huck is in a moral crisis because he may be a sinner struggling for conversion. Conscience says to me, What had poor Miss Watson dome to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? (Twain 80). At times Huck did doubt his actions. He thought about how kindly Miss Watson had always treated him and about how hurtful his actions could be. Huck wondered what had caused him to try and help Jim and what caused him to keep this a secret. He thought many times about letting people know about Jim but every time, his conscience ended up winning the battle inside of him.
Huck s humble apology is striking evidence of growth in moral insight. It leads naturally to the next chapter in which Mark Twain causes Huck to face up for the first time to the fact that he is helping a slave to escape (Devoto 77). When Huck apologized to Jim about the joke, it shows that he is beginning to have respect for Jim as a person, despite the color of his skin. This is a major part of the novel because it shows Huck s point of view changing. Before he began his journey down the river, Huck was just like the rest of his town. A black person is a slave and nothing more, nothing less, just a slave. Once Huck began his journey with Jim, he began to change his train of thought. Huck began to see Jim as an equal individual. Therefore, this is an important part of the novel.
In conclusion, Twain wanted to get the point across that everyone should trust their heart instead of their upbringings. Huck was truly the only innocent one in the novel because he followed his conscience even though he was told by society that he was wrong. Huck s natural goodness has won the battle against society.