The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Twain's Lesson in Moral Development

Mark Twain examines the relationship between moral codes and their effect on society through the characters he develops in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain constructs a unique moral code for each individual character based on that character's expectations from and treatment by society and his personal experience. In this novel morals mainly pivot around either compliance or defiance, which have the capacity to either blindly support or shrewdly undermine any societal institution, respectively. The young Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, pivotal characters in the novel, personify these moral opposites: one as a troubled societal outcast, the other as a typical white boy with an affinity for fun and games.

Huck struggles with conflicts between his own conscience and the moral expectations from society throughout the novel, especially regarding Jim and slavery. He knows he is breaking the law in helping Jim escape: "Conscience says to me, 'What had poor Miss Watson done to you, that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you, that you could treat her so mean?'"(100). Huck does not realize that his sensitivity toward...

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