Huckleberry Finn Internal Conflict Essay, Research Paper
The Battle of Huck
In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Huck faces the dilemma of embracing the discriminatory ideology of the South as he simultaneously combats his inner consciousness. Searching for a better way of life, both Huck, a freedom seeking youth, and Jim, a runaway slave, set off downriver. Along the way they encounter many obstacles. Their initial association eventually blossoms into a steadfast friendship, bypassing the practices of a racist society, leading Huck to support Jim’s escape.
Originally, Huck sees Jim more than less as a slave. During this time period, slavery is incredibly strong in the South. In the eye of southern whites, blacks are the bottom rung. Their acceptable place in life is to serve and meet the everyday needs of the Anglos, merely property and nothing more. It is this common belief which influences Huck and helps to shape his relationship with Jim. As a slave, Jim seems to be some what of a play toy to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Their respect for him as a person is scarce. The two are first portrayed in the book playing a practical joke on Jim. Although Huck mildly protests such antics, he still persists with the trickery. As a result of their pranks, Jim creates an elaborated version of the event, claiming to have seen witches and the devil. According to Huck, this gives Jim a great arrogance when around other blacks. Jim is “most ruined for a servant” (page 16). Consequently, Huck continues to view Jim as a slave, but a slave at the higher end of the spectrum. Jim may be a slave, but to Huck, he is more respectable than most.
As time passes, Huck develops an appreciation for Jim, viewing him as a friend, not a servant. The first instance where Huck truly demonstrates his concern is when Jim confesses that he has runaway. Guilty conscience and all, Huck promises to reveal the secret to no one. He sympathizes with the situation, after all, he too, is on the run. Later on, Huck shows further loyalty toward Jim after returning from town under the alias of “Sarah Mary Williams”. After finding out that Jim is being pursued, Huck returns to the island insisting on that the two of them leave immediately. “Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain’t a minute to lose. They’re after us!” (page 68) Huck also hides Jim under a quilt in the canoe to prevent any trouble with slave hunters. At one point in the story, Huck’s conscience is so heavy that he is in fact contemplating turning in Jim. His mind of course is changed after hearing the profuse, thankful shouts of Jim from aboard the raft, ” …you’s de bes’ fren Jim’s ever had; en you’s de only fren’ old Jim’s got now.” (page 93) Huck plays the role of Jim’s protector, his earthly guardian angel.
A large portion of Huck’s attitude toward slavery has been shaped by society. His mutated outlook originates from the day he first came into existence. Slavery was as much a part of everyday life in the nineteenth century as the computer is in today’s world. Slaves were viewed as an asset, not valued as people. They were necessary in executing the smallest of tasks. Being as these were the principles Huck had grown up with, he knew no other way of thinking. Huck’s conscience ultimately interrupts his corrupted perception. After battling with his conscience for an extended period of time, Huck finally comes to the realization that Jim is the best friend he has ever had. This is further emphasized when the king and the duke sell Jim back into slavery. Once again, Huck feels his conscience nagging at him and is off to rescue his comrade. Even in the beginning of the book it is apparent that Huck has a conscience. He is reluctant to participate in the trickery of Tom Sawyer. Despite society’s contaminated way of looking at life, Huck is moral person.
Ultimately Huck Finn remains loyal to Jim, deciding against several factors: friends, society and his conscience. Tom Sawyer is one of Huck’s best buddies; however, their relationship is based upon many childish antics. Eventually, Huck grows tired of these ways. Unlike Tom, who is motivated to free Jim due to adventure, Huck is acting to free his best friend. It is this friendship and general concern which allows Huck to look past Jim’s race. Friendship causes Huck to jointly disregard Tom Sawyer, society and his conscience in the same manner.
Throughout Huckleberry Finn, Twain demonstrates numerous themes. Courage and friendship are two of the most important. In today’s world, it is often true that people are quick to judge and slow to make reason out of their judgements. Stereotypes and generalizations are based upon the actions of the relatively few, causing many to suffer. This relates very much to southern society of the 1800’s. Most people did not comprehend the pain they were inducing upon their slaves or “property”. Twain, however, was able to portray a character with enough courage to stand up against the times, look past the race and into the soul of the man.