Independence in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Journey to Independence in Huckleberry Finn

In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the main character, Huck, struggles to develop his own set of beliefs and values despite the very powerful social structure of his environment. The people he encounters and the situations he experiences while traveling down the Mississippi River help him become an independent thinker in the very conformist society of 19th century Missouri.

Huck is a free spirit who finds socially acceptable actions to be restrictive and unbearable. This is demonstrated after Huck and his best friend Tom Sawyer find a large amount of money. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck. With Widow Douglas, Huck feels as though society's values and norms are being shoved down his throat. "The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied." (Twain 3) As Huck and Tom's adventure down the river begins, they have to quickly adapt to life on a raft. Both Huck and Tom prove themselves capable of this task. "My bed was a straw tick-better than Jim's, which was a corn-shuck tick; there's always cobs around about in a shuck tick, and they poke into you and hurt" (Twain 123) Resourceful Huck made beds for both he and Jim on the raft. No longer does he have the bed at Widow Douglas's house or even his sugar-hogshead, but he still survived with what he had.

Early on in the journey, the reader can see the fondness that Huck has for mankind. "And begged me to save their ...

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..., but didn't seem enthralled by it. He agreed to go along with his gang. By the end of the novel Huck has matured and is able to make independent decisions, even when they clash with others. "I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say-so it was all right now, and I told Tom I was a-going for a doctor." (Twain 264) This passage displays the newfound wisdom of Huckleberry Finn. Hucks leaving for the doctor against Tom's will is the first time Huck asserts himself in doing what he believes is right.

Huckleberry Finn's travels down the Mississippi brought events and people into his life that clarified his own beliefs and values. Huck always lived an independent lifestyle. By learning to make decisions for himself and assert his own beliefs, he could now be considered an independent thinking individual in a conformist society.

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