The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

How's Huck's crisis of conscience and the decision he makes about Jim an example of dramatic irony? What about his statement, "All right, then, I'll go to hell"? How do you think Twain intended the reader to reguard Huck's decision's?

Chapters 31-32

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I think the dramatic irony comes from the fact that the reader sees Huck's loyalty towards Jim even before Huck realizes it. All along their journey downriver, Jim cares for and protects of Huck, not as a servant, but as a friend. Thus, Twain's encourages the reader to feel sympathy and empathy for Jim and outrage at the society that has enslaved him and threatened his life. However, although Twain attacks slavery through is portrayal of Jim, he never directly addresses the issue. Huck and Jim never debate slavery, and all the other slaves in the novel are very minor characters. Only in the final section of the novel does Twain develop the central conflict concerning slavery: should Huck free Jim and then be condemned to hell? This decision is life-altering for Huck, as it forces him to reject everything "civilization" has taught him. Huck chooses to free Jim, based on his personal experiences rather than social norms, thus choosing the morality of the "natural life" over that of civilization.