English III AP, 3rd Hour
November 29, 2014
Huckleberry Finn: Good vs. Evil
The nineteenth century was a time of major moral conflict for those in the United
States. In the years following the Civil War, both the north and the south were conflicted about whether or not their actions were morally just or not. In his novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain pointed out both the good and rather unfortunate sides of humankind and showed not only the nation, but the world what it meant to either be a good person or a bad person. He displays mankind as courageous, senseless, and selfish through the depiction of his characters Huck, Jim, Tom, the Grangerfords, Huck's father, the "King", and the "Duke".
Twain displayed the courageousness of humanity through Jim and Huck Finn.
Huckleberry Finn was the most courageous of all the characters because he was never afraid to embark on any of his adventures. When he and Jim discovered a crashed steamboat that held a band of murderers, Huck was brave enough to try and stop them.
"But if we find their boat we can put all of 'em in a bad fix-for the Sheriff 'll get 'em"
(Twain, 52-53). Huck was courageous enough to risk his life all in an attempt to put some murderers in jail. He was also courageous when he decided to help Jim escape slavery even though he thought it would meant he wouldn't go to heaven. Twain showed that
Huck knew that helping to free Jim was the right thing to do, even if it would condemn
him when Huck thought, "All right then, I'll go to Hell" (Twain, 162). Jim was also very brave when he decided to run from slavery because he knew that to do so would put his own life in peril. He exemplified the amount of bravery and effort he put into escaping the holds of the Phelpses with the quote, "I laid dah under de shavins all day. I 'uz hungry, but I warn't afeared: bekase I knowed ole missus en de wider wuz goin' to start to de camp-meetn" (Twain, 33). Another time Jim proved to be exceedingly courageous was when he showed that he was willing to give up his freedom to save Tom Sawyer's life.
The doctor that treated Tom for his wounds pointed out this valor when he said, "I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuller" (Twain, 215). Both Huck Finn and Jim proved to be courageous and selfless, thusly portraying Twain's belief of what a good person should be like.
Mark Twain portrays the flaw of senselessness in mankind through his characters
Tom Sawyer and the Grangerford family. Tom's schemes are what prove him to be absolutely the most irrational and absurd characters in the novel. Huck describes Tom's plan to free Jim by saying, "every time a rat bit Jim, he would get up and write a little in his journal whilst the ink was fresh" (Twain, 201). Had Tom not come up with such a ridiculous plan, he would have saved Jim a lot of pain. Another of Tom's plans that were completely absurd was when he said, "the plan was for us to run him down the river, on the raft, and have adventures plumb to the mouth of the river, and tell him about his being free, and take him back home on a steamboat, in style, and pay him for his lost time... and then he would be a hero, and so would we"(Twain, 219). The Grangerford family was
also a mere bit idiotic at times. When Huck questioned Buck Grangerford about the background of the feud between his family and the Shepardsons, Buck replied with a casual, "Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago" (Twain, 82). Though Buck acknowledged that fact that the feud was nonsense, he continued killing the Shepardsons, which proved him and his family to be irrational. Using the Grangerfords as an example,
Twain was poking at the fact that during the Civil War, many people thought that the battling was pointless, yet they continued to participate in it because they were absolutely irrational. Selfishness is seen vividly through the characters of Huck's father, Pap, and the two nameless conmen who go by "King" and "Duke". Pap