Maturity is not a fickle expression such as happiness or frustration, but rather an inherent quality one gains over time, such as courage or integrity. Before maturity can be expressed, the one who expresses it must have significant confidence in himself, since self-confidence is the root of maturity. Being flexible and formulating one's own opinions or ideas are aspects of maturity, but neither is possible without self-confidence. The greatest aspect of maturity is the ability to make decisions which society does not agree with. Whether or not one follows through with these ideas is not important. What is important is the ability to make the decision. These decisions represent the greatest measure of maturity.
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn begins his adventures immature. As he is released from the clutches of his father and the Widow, he is forced to make decisions on his own and actually becomes quite mature. What's interesting about Huck Finn is that Huck doesn't end up as an enlightened, mature, young lad. He actually matures throughout the story until Tom is reintroduced, at which point he regresses into a state of immaturity. Huck appears only able to mature when there are no authoritative figures looming above him.
When we are first introduced to Huck, he is very immature. Refusing to give in to "civilized society," he is not making a mature decision; he is merely being stubborn. Huck is unable to be mature because his father has literally beaten into him his own values and beliefs. Because of his father, Huck has almost no self-confidence. He has been taught to shun society and is unable to make a decision to accept it because of the constant threat that his father may come...
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...ke." Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An Authoritative Text Backgrounds and Sources Criticism. Ed. Sculley Bradley, et al. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1977. 421-22.
Hoffman, Daniel. "Black Magic--and White--in Huckleberry Finn." Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: An Authoritative Text Backgrounds and Sources Criticism. Ed. Sculley Bradley, et al. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1977. 423-436.
Jones, Rhett S. "Nigger and Knowledge. White Double-Consciousness in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Satire or Evasion? Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Ed. James Leonard, et al. Durham: Duke UP, 1992. 173-194.
Kaplan, Justin. "Born to Trouble: One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn." Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Case Study in Critical Controversy. Eds. Gerald Graff and James Phelan. Boston: St. Martin's, 1995. 348-359.
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