In the Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, the author Mark Twain writes about a young, naï¿½ve boy and his struggle growing up while experiencing the world and discovering new concepts along the way. Twain makes it clear that Huck is the protagonist of the novel but not with out the help of other characters, such as Jim the slave, the Shepardson’s, Grangerford’s, the Duke and Dauphin, and of course Tom Sawyer. And with out these supporting characters we as the reader would not see the relationship between the story of a young boy and the struggle of our entire society at the time. The purpose of this paper will be to show the growth of Huck and how such an uneducated boy comes out on top in the end.
Throughout the story we see Huck go through many changes along his travels. Because Huck is so uneducated, young, and has never really hand someone to look up to. He is forced to think through different situations of what’s right and wrong in contrast to what has happened though out his life. He is never influenced by the social views of the time and that is why Twain selected a young boy for this novel and in turn that is why it was so effective.
The first time we see the quick wittedness of Huck comes about when he see his fathers foot prints in the snow one day. The first thing that Huck does is to give all his money away to the judge so his father can’t steal it from him. You see Hucks father’s a bad drunk and is at the bottom of the social class ladder. He didn’t do a good job raising Huck because he was drunk all the time and couldn’t really take care of him self. This scene shows us that Huck doesn’t want to be like his bad at all, and it also shows us that Huck might not be the smartest kid in school but he sure knows how to look out for himself.
The first change we see in the young boys life comes when he is forced to live with his father out in a shack along the shore of the Mississippi. This is a huge change from the hot meals and clean clothes style of living he dealt with at Miss Watson’s home back in town. This move marked the end of Huck’s formal education and he also turned his back on upper class society, not that he really minded either of those. But the hated the fact that he was now living with his father so one day he faked his death and decided to travel down the river. Huck really fooled the whole community at the time and even made them think Jim, his soon to be friend, killed him because he escaped around the same time. This of course was not Huck’s goal at all it just seemed to work fit perfectly in the community’s eyes.
Huck and Jim meet up on a little place called Jackson Island. Each of them was so happy to see each other, but Jim thought he had seen a ghost. Shortly after meeting up with Jim Huck goes to the main land to see if people are still looking for him, and comes across a young lady who informs him that she has seen smoke coming from Jackson Island. Her husband is going check it out that night, because they think it could be Jim hiding from the towns people. Huck could have turned Jim in but instead he helps him escape and this is where the adventure really begins.
Huck and Jim make their way down the river and come across a steamboat, once Huck checks it out he sees that there are some robbers on the boat that are planning to kill one of their own. Once Huck figures this out him and Jim steal their boat and leave the men stranded. This goes against what Huck used to believe in the start on the novel because all he ever wanted to do was robber from the rich kill who ever stood in his way, (this was also Tom Sawyers plan). Huck of course doesn’t let the men die, he tells a steamboat captain an elaborate story, based on the information given to him by that very same captain who in turn feel’s bad so he floats out to the ship and discovers the robbers. This is another one example of how Huck lies but still performs a kind-hearted act.
The two situations I just described help us as a reader get a feel for the directions of Huck’s growth as a character. In these two scenes we can see the good-hearted side of Huck and we also see how he used his lies and quick thinking as a tool for some good. Later on in the novel see a similar situations when Huck’s conscience contradicts the conventional social views that are at the root of society at the time.
For example, “it was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger-but I done it, and I warn’t sorry for it afterwards, neither” (212). This is a quote from Huck when he fools Jim into thinking he was a ghost and Jim was seeing things. Jim gets mad at Huck for playing the joke on him so Huck feels bad and apologizes to Jim and doesn’t feel bad about doing it either. This never would have happened if Huck had followed the rules of society at the time. This is a great example of how he contradicts conventional social views.
Another scene that was very instrumental in seeing Huck’s view differ greatly from the views of society was when Huck starts to feel bad that he is helping Jim escape from his rightful owner. This is about this time the two think they have discovered Cairo. Huck tells Jim that he is going to go to shore and see if they have in fact come across Cairo so he goes and checks it out. Huck comes across some slave hunters when he gets there and they ask him who’s on the boat. Huck once again goes with his gut feeling and tells the hunters that his father is on the raft and he has smallpox. The Hunters give Huck some money and tell him to go down river to get some help. This is instrumental because Huck risks him self getting into serious trouble because the hunters could have gone to the boat and tried to help his “father” and seen Jim in person. This part of the novel shows the reader Huck is developing his own conscience and viewpoints threw his own experiences and feelings, and not those of the world around him. Twain uses this scene to show use that Huck now knows the importance of friendship and honesty. Even though he did lie to the slave hunters he did it to protect his friend Jim, who he is now committed to.
At this point in the novel we as the reader now know that this story is full of adventure as well as a deeper meaning. In the next chain of events Jim and Huck get separated when a steamboat runs over their raft and the two are separated for a short time. Huck ends up staying with the Shepardson family. This is the first time since he left Miss Watson’s home that he has been in a socially influenced environment. But this situation is a lot different from the clam setting he was used to in St. Petersburg. See the Shepardson’s are in a family feud with another civilized and proper family the Grangerford’s. Huck’s stay is not a long one but in that short time he sees his new friend Buck get killed, and the two families attended church, with rifles in hand preaching to the heavens above. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, and Huck is far from that, to see the irony in this situation. Luckily Jim and Huck join forces again after Jim tells a Shepardson family slave to let Huck know where he can meet back up with him. Huck wastes no time getting out of this place once he gets the good news, and before you know it Jim and Huck are back on the mighty Mississippi.
Twain does a great job in this part of the novel because he shows that not only in St. Petersburg but also in other parts of the country there is a confusion, and disorder in society. Huck doesn’t need to see any more then he does before he retreats back to the solitude of the river, and the easy life style with Jim at his side.
But this simplicity and solitude are interrupted when the Duke and Dauphin hook up with Huck and Jim. This is the first time when the corruption and social influence come to Huck and Jim while they are on the river. It doesn’t take long before the two cheats, the Duke and Dauphin are telling Huck and Jim what to do. This is just another example of how society can affect and influence people, especially when it’s a slave and a young boy. Prior to these two clowns twain was using the river as a place where Huck could get away from all his troubles and move on. This just shows us as the reader that the corrupt thought of society and infiltrate just about anywhere.
The Duke and Dauphin con they way into tricking a very rich family that they are the long lost brothers, so they can steal the money. Since the father of the real brothers has recently died there is no real proof, except for Huck, that lets the family know they are being cheated the two man are successful at tricking the family. Once the two brothers steal the money Huck steals it back so they can’t get away with such a terrible con. This instance shows how much Huck has grown on his adventure down the river and so to has his conscience.
All of the adventure that have happened to Huck along the river are just leading up to his final decision, what to do with Jim, his once slave and now friend. Well after a while Jim was sold to the Phelps family because the Dauphin had made filers a while back offering up Jim for a small fee. Well Huck knows that helping a slave escape is viewed as one of the most terrible things that he could ever do, but he also knows that he is Jim’s only friend and he has to do something. So Huck hears that the Phelps are expecting their nephew so he pretends to be the one and only Tom Sawyer because that in fact was the nephew they were awaiting. Before Tom can get to the House Huck lets him know what is going on and Tom agrees to help Huck out and the two create a less then simple plan to get Jim out. Well to make the story short, Jim gets out safe but Tom gets shot in the leg during the adventure. Tom is taken back to the Phelps house where Huck goes to see if he is okay. Jim is also taken back to the house in chains because he is a run away slave. But before anything bad happens to Jim Tom informs the Phelps that Jim has been free this whole time, he just wanted to have another adventure with his buddy Huck Finn.
The last time we hear from Huck he is headed out west to find what ever he may be looking for. This is far from the young boy that dreamed of robbing and stealing with Tom Sawyer in the start of the novel. This book can be viewed as a great boy hood story or as a view of society threw Mark Twains eyes at the time. I like to choose the ladder, but when it all comes down to it, this story just proves that just because it may be the social norm at the time. It might not be the best thing or the right thing to believe in, and that is what Huckleberry Finn taught me, and that’s why he came out on top in the end of the novel.