As a twelve year old in the seventh grade, I constantly struggled with choosing which group of friends I wanted to hang out with. On the one hand, I could spend time with the more popular girls who clearly didn’t care about anything but themselves, or I could be with the more intellectual group of kids in my grade. As all seventh graders most likely would have done, I chose the popular crowd simply because they had more power in the school and as a result I held them to a higher regard. However I found myself having to put on a façade to spend time with them, which was unlike how I behaved with the other group.
Throughout the course of the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck goes through a similar dilemma. When Huck is under the influence of people he respects, he succumbs to their opinions, yet when he is alone, he is able to do as he pleases. However, with all things are considered, Huck’s sudden regression to his past self is not surprising because his actions are shaped by the characters that surround him.
Huck’s view of the world is primarily shaped by the society around him. Pap, The Widow Douglass, and Miss Watson all are vehicles for societal standards of the American south to become engrained into Huck’s head. Huck is clearly unhappy with the lifestyle he is forced into stating that “it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways” (Twain 11). Although Huck wants to live an independent life free of complications, the society around him pressures him into normalcy. As a result, Huck never is truly able to express his own opinions as more superior people are always scrutinizing him. For Huck, “there is a disconnect between feeling and action especially when he steps on moral ground that conflicts with accepted public practice” (Konnikova 4). This façade of a boy attempting to civilize himself is seen as long as Huck is in the presence of those who command respect from him despite his clear opposition to the society around him.
However, once Huck escapes from the clutches of society onto the river with Jim, his ability to make decisions and have a clear opinion begins to show. While on the river, Huck begins to see the humanity in Jim that he was taught did not exist. Huck continuously debates doing the “right” thing by turning Jim in or going with his own feelings. Despite occasionally feeling guilty about his situation with Jim, Huck always ends up choosing Jim over society at one point exclaiming, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell!” (Twain 225). Huck possesses the ability to decide things for himself, and “tends to behave differently in private versus public spheres. Huck and Jim’s raft is akin to a private sphere. It is just them, alone on the river social context flowing away” (Konnikova 3). It is only when Huck is given the opportunity to express his true self without the confinements of authority figures that he is able to develop as a person.
In contrast to Huck’s seeming…