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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the main character, Huck Finn, starts out as a follower to his best friend, Tom Sawyer. Huck does not do what he feels is best, but thinks, “What would Tom do?” (72). Huck is uneducated and makes decisions by his instinct. As the novel progresses, Huck Finn’s morality develops in many areas such as treating blacks with respect and kindness, considering and caring for others, helping people while knowing the consequences, and maintaining friendship through challenging experiences.

As Huck and Jim begin their journey and are finally alone on the raft going down the Mississippi River, Huck is under the influence of only Jim, the best, most kind character in the book. When Jim wakes up one day realizing that Huck is gone, he forgets about himself and his family because he cares so much about him and is so grateful to see that he is safe. Huck feels terrible and thinks, “It made me feel so mean I could almost kissed his foot. . . I wouldn’t done that [trick] if I’d ‘a’ knowed it would make him feel that way” (89). This is a big step for Huck to apologize to Jim and humble himself because he now feels like a son to Jim. He does not want to do anything that would hurt Jim even though he is a black man. Mark Twain equalizes blacks and whites when Huck does this. Huck realizes that no matter whom or what race someone is; they always need to be treated with respect and kindness.

As they go along the river, two officers come and ask who is in the boat because they saw five blacks run off. Huck’s heart tells him to say that the man is white while his head is telling him to do what he has always been told to do, which is to never help a black man and expose Jim. He tries to brace up and tell on Jim but the words would not come so he just says, “He’s white” (93). By Huck Finn following his own instinct instead of doing what is right to society, he becomes a true friend to Jim and is able to overcome the world’s concept. Even though he criticizes himself because of his choice, he does what most young men and women in his society would not be able to do. He saves Jim and “ole Jim ain’t going to forgit [him] for dat” (95). Huck’s morality develops by becoming more considerate of others.

Further into their journey, Huck and Jim pick up the king and the duke aboard the raft along the way. Once the con men pretend to be the Wilks’ uncles from England, they become an embarrassment to Huck. They want to take the families’ money and inheritance for themselves. After Huck cannot stand watching them do this, he decides to not help the con men any longer. He has sympathy for the family and they do not deserve to have their inheritance taken away. He tries to help by hiding the money in the coffin, which only makes things worse by also putting the slave family in danger of becoming broken apart. Huck has feelings for the two families and he grows in being more mindful of others. Even though things do not work out the best they could as he tries to hide the money, by him wanting to help out, develops his morality. He learns that the truth is safer than lies and admits to what he has done. He learned life lessons from this experience and becomes more caring for others.

One important event in the book that shapes Huck Finn’s morality is when Mr. Phelps owns Jim and Huck decides to free Jim. This is another time when he chooses to do what is wrong to society to help his friend. He tries to decide if he should send the letter to Miss Watson to let her know of his whereabouts but is brave enough to say, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”, and tears up the letter (207). Before he tears the letter he feels washed clean of sin for the first time ever and yet he helps Jim instead of caring about himself and being selfish. This is a true turning point in Huck’s life where he can help others with his whole heart while knowing the consequences. This is a significant choice for him because only those who truly love someone would be willing to take eternal damnation for a friend. Huck sincerely learns the value of friendship through this experience.

As The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn progresses, Huck learns and evolves through
his experiences on land. While he is in the river on the raft, he and Jim are in control and make their own rules and concepts. While on land, they are under societies’ control and are influenced by their beliefs. This is where Huck Finn is especially tested for his ethics and is forced to make his own decisions. He grows tremendously while on land and even though his choices do not always work out for the better, he has good intentions and the fact that he is trying to help, changes him. His moral development grows through characteristics such as honesty, the value of friendship, consideration of others, responsibility, and independence. These make him distinct and unique from society. Huck is finally able to speak and choose for himself and does not always have to worry about “What would Tom Sawyer do?”





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