The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

how as a character changed through the novel..Texual Support

what characters have changed throughout the novel.

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The main character of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn undergoes a total moral transformation upon having to make life defining decisions throughout his journey for a new life. Huck emerges into the novel with an inferiority complex caused by living with a drunken and abusive father, and with the absence of any direction. It is at this point where Huck is first seen without any concept of morality. Fortunately, Huck is later assisted by the guidance of Jim, a runaway slave who joins him on his journey and helps Huck gain his own sense of morality. Throughout Huck's adventures, he is put into numerous situations where he must look within himself and use his own judgement to make fundamental decisions that will effect the morals of which Huck will carry with him throughout his life. Preceding the start of the novel, Miss Watson and the widow have been granted custody of Huck, an uncivilized boy who possesses no morals. Huck looks up to a boy named Tom Sawyer who has decided he is going to start a gang. In order for one to become a member, they must consent to the murdering of their families if they break the rules of the gang. It was at this time that one of the boys realized that Huck did not have a real family. They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or something to kill, or else it wouldn't be fair and square for the others. Well, nobody could think of anything to do- everybody was stumped, and set still. I was most ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson-they could kill her (17-18). At this moment, Huck is at the peak of his immorality. A person with morals would not willingly sacrifice the life of someone else just in order to be part of a gang. It is at this point where Huck can now begin his journey of moral progression. Huck encounters his first major dilemma when he comes across the wrecked steamboat and three criminals. When Jim and Huck take the skiff for themselves, leaving the three robbers stranded, Huck realizes that he has left them to die. Now was the first time that I begun to worry about the men- I reckon I hadn't time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain't no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, and then how would I like it? (76). This is the first time that Huck questions the effects of what he has done on other people. After he realizes that he could now be considered a murderer, he makes a plan to get a captain to go investigate the wreck in order to save the men's lives. Even though the men he would be saving are murderers and robbers, he can not justify being responsible for their death, and makes it a point to correct what he has done wrong. This is the first major step in Huck's moral progression. At that point, he establishes a set of standards that considers leaving the men to die as immoral. Throughout the book there is the recurring theme of Friend v. Society. This is a main moral decision that Huck is forced to make a few times in his journey. Upon arriving at Cairo, Huck must decide if he should go along with society and turn Jim in as a runaway slave, or keep his promise to his friend, and see him through to freedom. Huck feels guilty not turning Jim in when he hears him talking about hiring an abolitionist to steal his family. He does not think it is right to help take away slaves from people that he doesn't even know. To turn Jim in for these reasons would be the influence of society on Huck. Huck's decision on this matter marks another major step in Huck's moral progression, because he decides not to turn in Jim on his own. This is the first time he makes a decision all on his own based on his own morality. Both this incident and the Wilkes Scheme represent Huck's ultimate realization and rejection of society. To encapsulate Huck's total moral progression through his decision to help Jim, Huck states, "I'll go to hell" (207) to see Jim into freedom. Huck's moral progression can be traced throughout the book beginning from his total lack of morals to being able to make the right decisions on his own. It is only with the help of Jim as a moral guide that Huck is able to undergo this moral transformation to use his own judgement and truly progress. The situation that Huck is encountered with about choosing friend over society is the main dilemma that pushes Huck to establish his own standards of morality, rather than accepting those that society has set forth.

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I disagree. Your first quote which shows Huck saving the robbers because he thinks "Oh I might become a murderer too so I'll help them"(not real quote) only shows that Hucks moral compass is twisted and confused, and the fact that he finds himself becoming a murderer acceptable shows immaturity. This doesn't spark any moral growth in Huck. When Huck exclaims that "I'll goto hell" he has already done so in the beginning when the Widow tells him that Tom is most likely going there, and he says he'd rather be there then. I am also suprised that you didn't bring up anything about his relationship with Jim which in my opinion is usually misunderstood. Huck's relationship grows only with Jim, not his whole outlook on slavery. At the end where Huck devises a ridiculous plan with Tom he manipulates the slave guarding Jim, scaring him by telling him that he's hearing things. This shows that Huck thinks that he can take advantage of slaves. Huck remains the same throughout the novel period.

Aaron, Huck does NOT stay the same. Mark Twain himself had this to say about his novel: "Huck Finn is a book of mine about a boy with a sound heart and a deformed conscience that come into conflict...and conscience suffers defeat." Our conscience is formed by the society we grow up in--in Huck's case, a society that views slaves as nonhuman and values parenting formal education. Huck experiences bad parenting from his own father and twisted (i.e. pro-slavery) parenting from Miss Watson, but good loving parenting from Jim. He also sees so much deceit and violence in the society around him, but feels "mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." He has been told all his life that anyone who harbors an escaped slave will go to hell and that educated people are to be admired--so he feels bad for liking Jim, and he wants to be like Tom Sawyer. Eventually he decides "I'll go to hell" because he chooses his heart over his deformed conscience. As for the plot to "steal" Jim, this is all cooked up by Tom, who knows that Jim is already free. It's all a game to Tom, and all the ridiculous schemes (scratching notes on plates, keeping pet spiders, filing the bedpost when he could just lift it and remove the chain) come from his formal education--i.e. books he's read. [This nonsense is Mark Twain's commentary on the questionable value of booklearning vs. life experience.] Huck admires Tom in the beginning of the novel but sees through the nonsense at the end when Tom is making Jim suffer just for his own fun.