Huckleberry Finn - Conflict Between Society And Th Essay

This essay has a total of 763 words and 4 pages.

Huckleberry Finn - Conflict Between Society And The Individual

The theme of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is that the ideas of society can greatly
influence the individual, and sometimes the individual must break off from the accepted
values of society to determine the ultimate truth for himself. In Huckleberry Finn's
world, society has corrupted justice and morality to fit the needs of the people of the
nation at that time. Basically, Americans were justifying slavery, through whatever social
or religious ways that they deemed necessary during this time.


The conflict between society and Huckleberry Finn results from Huck's non-conformist
attitude. This attitude is a result of his separation from society at an early age. With a
highly abusive drunkard for a father, Huckleberry Finn is forced from childhood to rely
solely on himself. As a result of this, he effectively alienates himself from the rest of
society. Society continues to try to "reform" him, but Huckleberry Finn shows his lack of
appreciation in that effort from the very beginning of the story when he says, "The Widow
Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me I got into my old rags
and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied." His actions are based on
instinct and his own experience, rather than conventional conscience. As a result, he
makes up the rules for himself as he goes along, forming a conscience that is keenly aware
of society's prejudices but actions based on that which he has experienced.


Ironically, often his own instincts hold him to a higher moral standard than those of
society. His decision to help free Jim, a slave, is an example of one such instance.
Huckleberry Finn recognizes Jim as a human being, but is fighting the beliefs bestowed
upon him by a society that believes slaves should not be free. However, it is important to
realize that although Huckleberry Finn's decisions create the conflict between society and
himself (and that this conflict forms the theme of the novel), Huck is oblivious to the
justice, the righteousness, and even the heroism of his own actions, they are simply in
accordance with his own conscience.


The climax comes in chapter thirty-one of the novel, when Huckleberry Finn's moral
development reaches its peak. Up until this point in the novel, Huckleberry Finn has been
experiencing internal conflict concerning his treatment of Jim. Society has brought him up
to believe that Jim is nothing but property, rightfully belonging to Miss Watson, and so
Huck would be wrong in helping Jim flee. At the same time, however, his experiences with
Jim, and his own personal instincts about the situation tell him that he is doing the
right thing.


Huck feels terrible because he cannot please both voices of his conscience. Huckleberry
Finn feels as though society is right, and he is wrong. At first, he begins to write a
letter to Miss Watson to return Jim, but then ends up destroying the letter and deciding
Continues for 2 more pages >>




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