Huck Finn And His Change In Morality

Essay, Research Paper


Mr. Lorber

Junior English-8

December 11, 2000

Changing Your Mind

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is based on a young boy’s coming of age in

Missouri of the mid-1800s. The adventures Huck Finn works into while floating down

the Mississippi River can depict many serious issues that occur on the “dry land of

civilization” better known as society. As these somber events following the Civil War are

told through the young eyes of Huckleberry Finn, he unknowingly develops morally from

both the conforming and non-comforming influences surrounding him on his journey to


Huck’s moral evolution begins before he ever sets foot on the raft down the

Mississippi. His mother is deceased, while his father customarily “sleeps with the pigs” in

a drunken state. Huck grows up following his own rules until he moves in with the

Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Together, the women attempt to “sivilize”

Huck by making him attend school, study religion, and act in a way the women find

socially acceptable. However, Huck’s free-spirited soul keeps him from joining the

constraining and lonely life the two women have in store for him.

It is after Huck Finn escapes to Jackson Island that he meets the most influential

character of the novel, Jim. Huck’s conscience reminds him that he is a “low-down and

dirty abolitionist” for helping Jim run away from his owner, but Huck does not see that he

is on the same path for freedom like Jim. A morality check comes across Huck, as he

stumbles onto the criminals on the steamboat. Huck shows development of character by

tricking the watchman into going back to the boat to save the robbers. Even though they

are thieves, and plan to to committ murder, Huck still feels that their deaths would be too

great of a punishment. Some may see Huck’s reaction as crooked, but, unlike most of

society, Huck Finn sees the good in people and attempts to help them with sincerity and


The con-men’s attempt to mascarade as the brothers of the late Peter Wilks is an

important part of Huck’s development. The Duke and King try to take Peter’s estate,

however, Huck decides to return the money to Peter’s three daughters. This action

demonstrates further moral growth, as he does choose to abandon the two con-men. Huck

also learns how contriving people can be while attending the funeral of Peter Wilks.

Women would walk up to Peter’s daughters and “kiss their foreheads, and then put their

hand on their head, and looked up towards the sky, with the tears running down, and then

busted out and went off sobbing and swabbing, and give the next woman a show (159).”

Huck has never seen anything “so disgusting.” When Huck Finn sees one of the daughters

crying beside the coffin, it makes a deep impact on him. Not only did he experience his

first bout with puppy love, he also feels compassion for an innocent victim. His religious beliefs

and moral standards cross pathes as he handles the situation. When Huck says, “All right then,

I’ll go to hell! (245),” it represents the highest point in Huck’s moral development. He has

decided to go against his conscience by freeing Jim, and in doing so, rejecting society. While the

society he has grown up in teaches that freeing slaves is wrong, Huck has evolved to a point

where he can realize that what he feels is right, and that his own beliefs are superior to those of

Southern civilization.

Through several important events, Huckleberry Finn was able to raise above the rest of

society. As a young boy, he learned many things about the cruel world, and what freedom really

means. Along with other new emotions, Huck Finn has learned what it is like to show

compassion and sincerity to others. As a result, the metamorphisis of Huck Finn?s morality

shows how one go undergo being ?sivilized? even though the deny to learn the process. Society

has come a long way since the Civil War, and it is important to realize that characters like

Huckleberry Finn, have made freedom accessible to all that need a harbor from the dry limits of



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