From Conformity to Manhood
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is the narrator. The character of Huck Finn was very different than the society that he was born into. Mr. Twain uses Huck’s open mindedness as a window to let humor and the book’s points and morals shine through. Huck always takes things very literally. This not only adds to the humor of the book, but it also lets some of the books deeper messages come through. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, traces the story of a young man, Huck Finn, from conformity
to the Southern way of thinking, to his own ideas about religion, wealth and slavery.
In the first scenes of the book Huck is struggling to understand the concepts of Miss Watson's heaven and hell. He finds her harp strumming view of heaven boring and he wants to be in an exciting place. When Miss Watson tells Huck that he will get anything he prays for, he takes it very literally and decides to pray for fishing line, which he gets. But praying for fishing hooks didn't seem to work, when he asks her to pray for him to get some fishing hooks she calls him an idiot. These are both gentle pokes at southern religion. Christianity practiced a people so very pious, like Miss Watson, who can still treat their human slaves like property. This is an ongoing theme in the book. Twain points out some of the absurd incongruences between Christianity and the lifestyle of most of the south. Huck has not conformed to societies general way of thinking. When he is with the widow and Miss Watson, he begins to change, but Pap steals him away and he reverts back to a much more practical lifestyle.
Huck places very little value on the large sum of money that he has in the bank, while he finds smaller sums more important. Six thousand dollars was a fortune in the time that the book was written, but Huck, unlike the rest of his society wasn't impressed by it. This is again because of his literal mindedness. What could he use six thousand dollars for? He could use ten cents to buy some food, or five cents to buy some fishing line, but he had no use for huge sums of money. Society put value on wealth and property and book learning. Huck placed his value on free living. He saw no reason for any of the things society valued when you could float down the grand Mississippi with a friend.
The isolation on the Mississippi River affords a place for Huck to be Jim's equal. On the plantation Jim was just a slave, and even though Huck liked Jim back then, they could never have been friends because Jim was a black slave and Huck was white. At first Huck had grave misgivings about helping Jim escape, but he gradually decided that what he had observed of Jim was the basis on which he would judge him. Jim loved Huck and wouldn't bother to wake Huck up at night to take the watch. Jim always looked out for Huck and talked with him. He showed Huck that he loved his family just like a white man loved his family. Society had impressed upon Huck the concept that slavery was acceptable. However, as the story unfolds he comes to know Jim as a human and not a piece of property, he wrestles with his conscience, and when the crucial moment arises, he decides he will be damned to the flames of hell rather than betray his black friend. If Huck had been a member of society, he wouldn't have even thought of looking for a person inside of Jim. But because of his open mindedness in taking things at face value he gradually became aware that Jim was a beautiful person. He forms new ideas about himself and the world around him.
At the end of the book we find how right Huck is about Jim. We find that southern culture hasn't corrupted Huck's common sense. Huck has broken through all the pettiness and superficiality of that culture to form new ideas and values of his own. Mr. Twain showed us the power of an open mind in a beautiful story of Huck Finn's journey from ignorance to manhood
-by simply using his common sense.
1. Underline titles of novels.
2. Your first two long paragraphs are plot summaries, which is not needed for you paper. Try not to tell the story of the novel as your introduction.
3. Quotes would have made your paper stronger. Quotes prove that your argument was valid. Quotes also take the place of the plot summary.
4. Be specific in your thesis statement. If you talk about religion, money and slavery in your paper then you should list them in your thesis. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, traces the story of a young man, Huck Finn, from conformity to the Southern way of thinking, to his own ideas about religion, wealth and slavery.