Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is perhaps one of the most controversial novels the North American Continent has ever produced. Since its publication more than a hundred years ago controversy has surrounded the book. The most basic debate surrounding Twain's masterpiece is whether the book's language and the character of Jim are presented in a racist manner. Many have called for the book to be banned from our nation's schools and libraries. Mark Twain's novel is about a young boy who was raised in the south before slavery was abolished, a place where racism and bigotry were the fabric of every day life. The novel is the account of how Huck Finn, who is a product of these times, transcended the morals and values of these times through his relationship with the escaped slave Jim. Huckleberry Finn is a mixture of satire and adventure story. It is a novel about growing up in a time and place that still haunts the living, the American past. It is about a past, and the origins of that past, that still lie heavy on the American conscience. This paper will examine the character, morals and values of Huckleberry Finn. It will discuss his relationship to the values of his society and the conflict that is produced between those values and the relationship that grows between him and Jim during their adventure.
The character of Huck Finn has become a kind of an American folk hero. He is a kid who knows how to live by his wits. Perhaps he is a younger American version of the wily Odysseus. He knows how and when to act and impersonate other people and perhaps most important for a boy in his situation, he knows how to lie. One must never lose sight of the fact that...
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...out a boy trying to find his own way in the days of the South before slavery had ended. Huck Finn finds adventure and friendship with a runaway slave on a raft headed down the Mississippi River. And like Odysseus on his adventures, Huck learns much about himself and subsequently we learn more about ourselves. We learn that what an individual often believes to be right is not always in congruence with the official religion of the city or the values and mores of the times. One must have the courage to stand up for what one believes in even if, as in the mind of Huck, it means suffering eternal damnation.
Beaver, H. Huckleberry Finn. London: Allen & Unwin, 1987.
Egan, M. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn: Race, Class and Society. Toronto: Sussex UP, 1977.
Twain, M. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Signet, 1959.
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