The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn and the American Journey to Equality

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain creates a sense that Huck and Jim grow close and Huck perhaps begins to see Jim not as a slave, but as a human being. In accordance with his reputation for cynicism, though, Twain forgoes the expected ending—which would perhaps include Jim being elevated in the eyes of Huck and others to the status of an actual human being—to a more anticlimactic and problematic ending in which Jim remains a superstitious bumpkin and the people of Pikesville only grant him freedom through a legal technicality. Ultimately, no great moral journey is made to match the great physical journey down the Mississippi River. Subtly, Twain nevertheless inserts hints that in spite of the lack of moral progress that has been made, hope exists for such future progress. With this ending, Twain mimics the state of the nation at the time of the novel’s 1885 publication. Essentially, Twain indicates in the ending that while he is unpretentious about the progress that has been made toward racial equality as of yet, he is still optimistic about the potential for future growth.

To understand the ending, one must understand that, through a series of separate episodes that clearly satirize elements of society, Twain...

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