donation Essay

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Huckleberry Finn Moral Development & Changes

In the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain the main character Huck has the continuing problem whether to do what society says he should do or what his own conscience says he should do. The book is about how society tends to corrupt true morality, freedom, and justice, which exist in nature, and how the individual must follow his or her own conscience. Huck has to make many moral choices; these moral choices help the author shape and develop Huck throughout the novel. One example of this is when Huck has to decide whether to turn Jim in to the slave hunters or not. Huckleberry is a rough, truly uncivilized boy. He rebels against the restraints of civilization-artificial, middle-class society-- and its delusions, represented by cramped clothing and religion. Huck's complete sincerity, which leads to his dislike for hypocritical civilization, is his defining quality. Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, meanwhile, are the representatives of the society Huck rejects.
Twain develops Huck's character by the choices Huck makes as the novel progresses. Huck Finn goes through many moral developments. In the beginning of the book, Huck is careless, he plays jokes and tricks on people. When Huck's adventures grow to involve more people and new moral questions never before raised, it is clear that he has started to change. By the time the book is almost over, we can see a radical change in Huck's opinions, thoughts, and his views of "right and wrong".
Sometimes, serious events can affect a person's moral opinions and values. This is clearly shown in Huck as his adventures progress further into seriousness. Hucks opinion about religion shows his lack of concern for serious things. Several passages written in 1876 deal with problems of morality: in these was the germ of the chief thought to be developed in the completed novel. Huck’s attacks on prayer and his concepts of heaven in chapters i-iii introduce the motif (Blair, 134).
When he was told about heaven and hell (he refers "good" and "bad" place respectively), he thinks about going to the "bad" place because he finds dull singing and praying to god, while the bad place appeals to him as he hears that his friend Tom Sawyer is going to the bad place (37). He is not serious in praying and instead of praying for help in finding faith, he prays for a fishing line and he is upset when he finds that there is fishing line but there are no fishing hooks (39). Mark Twain expresses Huck's wildness and confused morals. His careless and wild ways are expressed with his superstitions as well. This is shown with his throwing salt over his shoulder (43) and his other superstitions such as burning the spider, about the snakeskin, and talking about the dead (61). Huck never tells the truth. One of his bloated lies is about being a girl and he keeps bloating and bloating to cover up his old lies (75).
As the book progresses his seriousness develops. By the middle of the book, we can see Huck’s improvement. He now realizes that Jim is more human than he was supposed to believe. His view of "right” and “wrong" have changed. He continuous lying and playing jokes, but now he feels some guilt whenever he does this. For instance when he tricks Jim into believing he was dreaming about the fog. When Jim says:
…When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin’ for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos’ broke bekase you wuz los’, en I didn’t k’yer no mo’ what become er me en de raf’. En when I wake up en fine you back agin’, all safe en soun’, de tears come en I could a got down on my knees en kiss’ yo’ foot I’s so thankful. En all you wuz thinkin ’bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid lie. Dat truck dah is trash; en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em feel ashamed (99).
Lionel Trilling in his work The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn says, “The pride of human affection has been touched, one of the few…