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In his tale, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) introduces the reader to an unsupervised fourteen year old boy who doesn’t agree with the rules and beliefs of the white society in which he finds himself. Huck teams up with Jim, a run away slave and the two begin a journey down the Mississippi River. Huck’s adventures with Jim, serve not only to entertain Huck, but also provide him with opportunities to develop his moral character. Through Huck’s relationship with Jim, Twain realistically illustrates the hypocrisy of a social and religious belief system that accepted slavery and racism in the South after the Civil War. During these adventures, Huck struggles to determine right from wrong and in the end chooses to go against the social norms of his time and help Jim to escape from slavery.
In the beginning of the story, Huck had been adopted by the “Widow Douglas” and she attempted to “sivilize” Huck by sending him to school, teaching him manners and telling him about God through reading the bible and praying. Huck liked the Widow Douglas, but didn’t like having to conform to her ways. He would rather be hanging out with his friends dreaming up some future adventures for them to take on. Huck begins to expresses his internal conflict between a society that demands conformity while he delights in remaining a non-conformist. Despite his inconsistent feelings, Huck chooses to stay on with the Widow Douglas.
Huck had previously found a sum of six thousand dollars, which had been hidden by a band of robbers. Huck gave the money to Judge Thatcher, to put in the bank so he could live off the interest. Huck felt he could surely live well off the dollar a day interest he would receive, especially since he lived with the Widow Douglas. After hearing Huck had come into the money, Huck’s father returned to get custody of him. Huck, out of fear that his father would blow the money on whiskey, gives the money over to Judge Thatcher. Here we begin to see Huck doesn’t seem to care all that much about money and how his position in society could be changed.
Huck’s father is able to win custody of him and set’s out to sue Judge Thatcher to obtain Huck’s money.
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While hiding on island close by, Huck meets up with Jim, the run away slave. They begin camping out on the island together and start to create a bond with each other. Without the restraints of society, the two enjoy exploring the island, catching fish and eating wild berries. One night, Huck tries to play a trick on Jim by putting a snake on his bed, the joke turns ugly when the snake’s mate bites Jim and Huck realizes he has hurt Jim’s feelings by attempting the joke. Huck is not conditioned to care about Jim; most southerner’s at the time treated slaves as property and was not concerned with their
humanity. Huck’s sorts out his inconsistent feelings and realizes his mistake and begins to see Jim as a human being and wants to mend his behavior towards him.
After Huck finds out some men may be coming to the island looking for Jim, Huck and Jim debark on a raft down the Mississippi River hoping to find the town Cairo where Jim believes he will be free. Somehow, during their nightly runs down the river, they believe they’ve missed the town. The two then encounter a steamboat, which runs right over them, throwing them both into the river. Huck swims ashore and comes in contact with a family by the name of Grangerfords. Huck learns a great deal about the family and their feud with another family by the name of Sheperdson. Huck observes ironically how both families go to church with their guns to hear a sermon “all about brotherly love” (1352), then return home and continue feuding.
Huck is reconnected to Jim through the Grangerfords slave. They again set out to continue on the mission to gain freedom. They encounter two ruthless hustlers, “The King and The Duke”, who bring Jim and Huck into plots created to scam the town’s people of their money. Huck is able to tolerate the first attempt, but when Huck meets up with a young girl who is about to loose her father’s inheritance, Huck’s is lead by his heart to do the right thing and not allow these hustlers to get away with this. Huck is able to escape the situation without the being found out by the “The King and The Duke”. But one of them sells Jim to a small family, which has him hidden in a shed out back of their house.
Huck is able to locate Jim and befriends the family by telling them he is their nephew Tom Sawyer. Which allows for Tom Sawyer to be re-introduced into Huck’s live. The two create a plan to break Jim out of slavery, the end result being Tom’s plan didn’t work. Tom ended up being shot and Jim risked his own freedom to assist in saving Tom’s life. Jim was taken back into town in chains. Tom had to confess that Miss Watson had let Jim go free in her will after she died. After finding all this out the townspeople all treated Jim well and Tom gave Jim forty dollars for the trouble he cause him. Jim is taken on a journey by Tom, who knew he was already free and then insults him by offering him money for his troubles
Throughout this tale the author shows the kind and gentile self-less nature of Jim the slave. He points out that Jim is considered to be just a “nigger” by society and continues to use this vernacular language to show the reality of how that society treated these people. The adventure’s Huck experienced has allowed for him to develop his own conscience of right and wrong based own his judgment of the situation and without regard for what people thought of him. Throughout the story, Huck demonstrates his ability to make the right choices. The irony, everything Huck and Jim did to obtain his freedom was for nothing because he was already free.