Satirizing Human Weakness


St. Petersburg—Education


At St. Petersburg, I believe that Mark Twain is ridiculing education. At the age of twelve, Huckleberry Finn is poorly educated, from books and in the ways of the world. He knows and learns only what he experiences. Jim also was uneducated. One could look to this example and say that it was only because he was a slave and that society did not permit for slaves to be educated, but that is to say that the slaves had no one among them who was educated. This assumption would be false. During this period in history, slaves were not permitted to have a formal educated, but a few learned black men took it upon themselves to teach the younger generations all they could obtain. I believe that Jim may have been view as too old to be taught from books, which is a sad thing indeed. This may have been the case with Jim, but what is to explain Huck’s lack of education? For one, Huck was an orphan whose father was a drunk. This in itself would make obtaining an education an issue, but I think that it was more a lack of desire, on Huck’s part. He did not want to be “civilized” and viewed education as a form of civilization.


Pap’s Cabin—Child-Abuse/ Courts and Laws


When Huck is sent to live with his father, he is beaten and locked inside the cabin for periods of time. Mark Twain is obviously satirizing child-abuse, but I think he is more so attributing it to the failure of the courts. Though his father is clearly not capable of taking care of him, the courts dictate that Huck is to live with father. A compassionate Widow Douglas goes to the court to try to take custody of Huck, but is turned away because of the belief that one should remain with their natural family. It seems corrupt and unjust that no deliberation was made on the case; no one looked into the consequences of the decision that was made. Therefore, the courts contributed to Huck’s abuse.


Jackson Island—Poor-Taste


The idea of poor-taste is highlighted by Twain when Huck decides that he is going to dress up as a girl and sneak back into town to witness the reaction to his disappearance. Poor-taste, or a bad judgment call, seems to lead to acquiring more knowledge than needed. Huck finds out that everyone thinks Jim murdered him (Huck), and from that point on he must try to conceal Jim’s identity as well as his own. If Huck would have simply fought his urge to discern the feelings of the town, his escape from civilization would have come more easily. Mark Twain does not simply tell the reader that a judgment made in poor-taste is, in effect, begging to be put through hardship; he exemplifies this with Huck’s decision to be meddlesome.


Sinking Steamboat—Drug Abuse


A scene from this section of the novel illustrates the consequences of drug abuse very well. It opens with Huck and Jim overhearing a conversation as they stand outside the steamboat. Three men are inside, one man lying on the floor with a gun pointed at him. It appears that there has been a deal that has gone sour. Mark Twain pokes fun the drug abusers as they are incapable of being aware of what is going on around them. They are so caught up in their disagreement that they do not notice Huck outside the window listening to their conversation. If they had, they would have been able to prevent him from “ratting them out.” As in any case where drugs are involved, their judgment was clouded by a haze of confusion, allowing them to fall victim to a young boy’s curiosity.


Cairo—Racism and Bigotry


As they approach Cairo, Huck lets his racist views and narrow-mindedness take hold of him. He lets immaturity rule and plays a trick on Jim because he still does not see Jim and a human; he believe of his as merely a piece of property, incapable of possessing real feelings. Twain shows the reader the effect of racism and bigotry when Jim tells Huck how it saddens him to be treated in such a way. The overall outcome of racism and