, Research Paper
Huckleberry Finn as an American Character Mark Twain s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel about a young boy s coming of age in Missouri during the middle 1800 s. The main character, Huckleberry Finn, spends a lot of time in the novel floating down the Mississippi River on a raft with a runaway slave named Jim. Before he does so, however, Huck spends some time in the town of St. Petersburg where a number of people attempt to influence him. Huckleberry Finn is considered an American character for many reasons. Throughout the novel Huckleberry shows stereotypical traits of what is expected, sometimes anyway, of the ideal American character. Even before the novel begins, Huckleberry Finn has led a life of absolute freedom. Americans are known throughout the world to have more freedom then anybody else. His drunken and often missing father has never paid much attention to him, his mother is dead and so, when the novel begins, he is not used to following any rules. Huck, a good old-fashioned American character is just like the stereotype of American characters, by not following the rules. In the beginning of the book Huck lives with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Both women are old and are really incapable of raising a rebellious boy like Huckleberry Finn. They attempt to make Huckleberry into what they believe will be a better boy. Specifically, they attempt, as Huck says in the novel, to civilize him. Americans are known throughout the world to be civilized, and that s just what they are trying to do to Huck, although it never happens. Huckleberry Finn is just a kid so how civilized should he be. He is an adventurerous boy, with a great passion for life. It is after he leaves his father s cabin that Huck joins an important influence in his life: Miss Watson s slave, Jim. Before Huckleberry s leaving, Jim has been a minor character in the novel. He has been shown being fooled by Tom Sawyer and telling Huckleberry s fortune. Huck finds Jim on Jackson s Island because he has run away, after overhearing a conversation saying that he will soon be sold to New Orleans. Soon after joining Jim on Jackson s Island, Huck begins to realize that Jim has more talents and intelligence than Huck has been aware of. Jim knows all kinds of signs about the future, people s personalities, and weather forecasting. Huck finds this kind of information necessary as he and Jim drift down the Mississippi on a raft.
Huck feels a comfort with Jim that he has not felt with the other characters in the novel. With Jim, Huck can enjoy life. This is another example of Huck being the American character he is said to be. Americans are known for enjoying life and having comfort in the life they live. Usually it is because they have money, but in Huckleberry s case, it wasn t an issue of money but instead freedom. Huck had money but gave it to the judge, proving that money isn t needed to enjoy life. When Huck and Jim are forced to leave Jackson s Island because Huck discovers that people are looking for the runaway slave Jim. Prior to leaving, Huck tells Jim, They re after us. Clearly, the people are after Jim, but Huck has already identified with Jim and has begun to care for him. This shows that the two outcasts will have a successful and rewarding friendship as they drift down the river as the novel continues. Huckleberry Finn s traits of caring for Jim is what the American character is known for. American characters are commonly accepted as being friendly and caring for their friends and family. Along with the traits listed that Huckleberry shows, he is very courageous. An example of him being courageous is when he lies to the men asking him if he had a slave in the boat, on their journey down river. Huckleberry showed a lot of courage in not turning in Jim. He had to lie to the sheriff and two other deputy s. Many people would not risk that, but huckleberry Finn would. As the novel goes on he proves to be even more cages and heroic, what the typical American character would show. In conclusion, the traits that Huckleberry Finn shows in the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, are truly what the American character should be like. He believes in what he wants, he does what he wants, he says what he wants, and is the person he wants to be. These are all signs of a true American character. Although only one or two examples are listed in this paper, for the traits Huckleberry Finn shows, many more examples of these traits could be added. Huckleberry Finn is a true American character.