The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A moral memoir


2/10/04


Period 1


A child, when first born into this world, is totally objective and oblivious to all. A clean blank slab of a blackboard portrays his/her brain thus far. As time goes on, input is inscribed upon this “blackboard”. From there conclusions are drawn, inferences are made, and right and wrong are being defined. Society has everything to do with the course of this. The main character of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck, undergoes a total moral transformation upon having to make life defining decisions throughout his journey for a new life; from a simple boy living amongst society to a mature human who can think for himself about the rights and wrongs of humanity. Twain is trying to show the audience that society has the majority of influence upon the individual, and will cause the person to conform to the norms of that society. Huck Finn is a great example of a disciple of society who learns to think individually and back to the fundamentals of mankind.


Huck emerges into the novel with an inferiority complex caused by living a double standard life: with a drunken and abusive father and with two old ladies who would like to raise him properly. It is here that Huck is in absence of any direction. It is at this point where Huck is first seen without any concept of morality. Preceding the start of the novel, Miss Watson and the widow have been granted custody of Huck, an uncivilized boy who possesses no morals. “They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or something to kill, or else it wouldn’t be fair and square for the others. Well, nobody could think of anything to do– everybody was stumped, and set still. I was most ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson–they could kill her” (17-18). At this moment, Huck is at the peak of his immorality. A person with morals would not willingly sacrifice the life of someone else just in order to be part of a gang. Huck’s confusion with society, along with his idolism of Tom Sawyer, caused him to make such a statement. He wants to escape from his abusive father and overly-strict guardians, thus he turns to the immorality and childish way to “get away from it all”. Twain here can easily prove his view upon society in 1 easy step. He shows the proper/former side of society with Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. Here he presents the case with the views of society: racist, biased, and ethnocentric. In many instances Twain sarcastically will ridicule society for its immoral beliefs by exaggerating them in the book. The word “nigger” may seem like the proper connotation in accordance to the dialect of the time, but the way they treated “niggers” and their attitudes toward them should not have been proper in any case. The insecure and perplexed Huck was willing to give up a human life in order to pursue his childish dreams and to escape the pressure induced by society. Twain points out how society could have hurt a boy with that example and also talks about one of many of society’s problems.


Huck begins his journey of moral progression after he escapes and decides to befriend Jim, the runaway slave. He from here learns about the evils and skewed views of society; little by little, he learns to confront and decide for himself upon these situations. Huck encounters his first major dilemma when he comes across the wrecked steamboat and three criminals. When Jim and Huck take the skiff for themselves, leaving the three robbers stranded, Huck realizes that he has left them to die. “Now was the first time that I begun to worry about the men– I reckon I hadn’t time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, and then how would I like it?”(76). This is the first time that Huck questions the