moralhf Comparing Moral Strength in Huckleberry Finn and On The Rainy River

715 Words2 Pages

Moral Strength in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and On The Rainy River In both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, and “On The Rainy River” by Tim O’Brien, the main characters are faced with situations where they must do either what they think is right or what the rest of the world they know thinks they should do. Huck must choose either to save Jim and help him escape to freedom, and maintain loyalty to his friend, or do as society would dictate and let the runaway slave remain in captivity. Tim O’Brien must either flee a war he thinks is wrong or obey his country’s call to arms. While the morals of both Huck Finn and Tim O’Brien are put to the test, only Huck is strong enough to stand up for his beliefs. Together, Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim head south along the Mississippi during one summer. During their adventures, Huck has trouble with his conscience—he knows Jim is a runaway, and that the socially correct thing to do would be to turn him in and get him sent back to his owner. However, whenever the opportunity to do so arises, Huck finds it impossible to do. Near the end of the book, when Huck is out meandering and Jim is still on the raft in the river, Jim is captured by an old man as a runaway and gets sold for $40. It is here, at this point, that Huck has his largest moral dilemma. Should he let Jim remain captured, as he is legally the property of Miss Watson, or should he rescue the true friend who has stayed steadfastly and unwaveringly by his side? Huck does not want to remain “wicked,” as he himself calls it, so he writes a letter to Miss Watson informing her that her slave is being held by a Mr. Phelps down south of Pikesville. He cannot, though, bring himself to send the letter. He winds up ripping the letter to shreds, with the comment, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” (p. 207). He is willing to sacrifice his soul, and do a deed he believes he will be damned for, to save Jim, the runaway slave. It takes a character of great moral strength to do what he did. Tim O’Brien, on the other hand, has a somewhat different story.

Open Document