Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is a person to be admired. His caring attitudes and blunt honesty prove that he is a great person. Although Huck can be seen lying, cheating and stealing, he does these things out of necessity and as a result of his poor upbringing. These negative attributes don’t affect his overall high character.

Huck Finn has many great aspects, but he is fallible and capable of doing wrong. He often lies, cheats, and steals simply to survive and get out of trouble. Huck also displays this bad behavior as a result of his poor upbringing. Much of this behavior was learned from his father, as evidenced in the following passage. “Pap always said it warn’t no harm to borrow things if you was meaning to pay them back some time; but the widow said it warn’t anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it” (65). It is this learned behavior, his desire to survive and “get out of jams,” and society’s negative influences, such as its view that slavery is right, that motivates him in doing wrong.

Although Huck can sometimes be labeled as a miscreant, he is actually a very honest person. In a literal sense, Huck doesn’t always exhibit honest behavior. However, it is Huck’s realistic and slightly naive view of society that is honest--he sees things for what they truly are. One example of this honesty occurs when Huck helps Jim to freedom. While he doesn’t view his own actions as honorable, the reader can infer that they are. Huck feels guilty for his role in Jim’s escape, knowing that he was doing something society would have scorned. He says,

"I couldn’t get it out of my conscience, no how nor no way. It got to troubling me so I couldn’t rest; I couldn’t stay still in one place. It hadn’t ever come home to me before, what this thing was that I was doing. But now it did; and it stayed with me, and scorched me more and more...I got to feeling so mean and miserable I most wished I was dead" (88).

Huck is honest with himself and his feelings.

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It is this honesty that helps him make difficult decisions that often contradict the popular views of society. It is also his humbleness and plainness, which is shown through his simple, ragged clothes and poor use of the English language, that contributes to his honesty.

Huck is also a compassionate person. One example comes when Huck, the Duke and the King are staying at the Wilks’ house and conning the orphan girls out of their inheritance. His compassion brilliantly shines when he says,

"I says to myself, this is another one that I’m letting him rob her out of her money, and when she got through they all jest laid themselves out to make me feel at home and know I was amongst friends. I felt so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind’s made up; I’ll have that money for them or bust" (88).

This passage effectively shows that Huck is a very charitable person. He decides to do everything in his power to help the orphan girls, even if it means losing his friends. Huck is also very sympathetic toward Jim. Though he still views Jim as a lowly African American, Huck has deep compassion for him and a desire to take him to freedom.

Huck Finn is a strong character with primarily good attributes. His honesty and compassion are admirable features that are hard to find, even in today’s society. Although Huck displays undesirable behavior at times, it is simply learned behavior that is shining through. These undesirable traits don’t detract from Huck’s overall high character.

Works Cited

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. U.S.A.: Perma-Bound Publishing, 1884.


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