Loyalty and Trust in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
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Huckleberry Finn – Loyalty and Trust
Huckleberry Finn does not address questions of law as directly as the other novels that we have read. Ostensibly, Huck is torn between disobeying the slavery laws and honoring his conscious. However, Huck shows a disregard for other laws throughout the story, so I think that his conflict stems not from a belief that one must obey the law because it is the law, or on a social contract theory. Huck is never overly concerned with the truth or the norms of society, he adheres to the mores of society because of the consequences as opposed to any fundamental acceptance of them or authority. Unlike Billy Budd, however, Huck does not seem to be influenced by the fear of corporal punishment, as much as he is concerned with the social consequences that would result if his disobedience was discovered. The choice that Huck eventually makes is deeper than just choosing to accept the social consequences, he is willing to `go to hell' for Jim, rather than betray the loyalty and trust that has grown between them.
I think that Mark Twain choose an excellent vehicle for the presentation of a sharp, social satire. By letting Huck tell the story, Twain was free to present the ignorance underscoring the mores that were passed onto to children. Huck interprets the world literally, which starkly contrasts with the romanticism of Tom Sawyer and spiritualism of the widows. Huck's literalism also allows him more leeway than a third-person narrator can have. Mark Twain could have presented his criticisms in an essay, or a more sensational, fictional novel; however, he has chosen the most powerful form because the realism of th...
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...ppears, because it is possible that Tom's disregard was not based on unintentional, ignorance but rather was intentional and selfish.
I will have to re-read Tom Sawyer to consider that question, I remember that was my view the very first time I read the book because I did not read Tom Sawyer first. I think I changed my mind upon learning that Tom was such a well-known and beloved character, I did not think the audience would accept it. However, today, I am not sure why I thought the audience's expected acceptance/rejection is indicative of the authors intent. Twain was very dark in his later years, and his use of the dialects, inclusion of the (arrogant, taunting?) notice/explanation (challenge?) and his biting satiric tone indicate that he would not feel constrained by the audiences expectations, and might seek to shock them.
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