Nonconformity might be viewed as rebellion to some, but to others is a sign of independence. In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, a theme of growing maturity appears. Nonconformity is a trait among others that led to Huckleberry Finn’s evolving maturity. Responsibility along with growing independence led to his coming of age. Although maturity is an important trait and theme shown in the book, there are several factors that contribute and lead to this. Nonconformity emerges as Huckleberry Finn matures. In the beginning of the book he is a follower of Tom Sawyer’s childish ways.
Being a member of “The gang,” and believing bizarre statements displayed his ignorance and immaturity. After Tom convinces the gang to rob and kill a band of Arabs, Huck questions him about the actual presence of the Arabs, stating, “Why can’t we see them, then? ” This is when he comes to the realization that they are simply raiding a school, and that it is just another one of Tom’s lies. This is when Huck begins to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Huck’s relationship with Jim is another example of nonconformity.
In the society they live in Huck is low on the social latter, however Jim is even lower because he is a slave. Assisting Jim as a runaway slave is something generally shunned upon by that society however, Huck feels it necessary and morally right; he refuses to conform to societies ideals. At one point Huck is faced with the capture of Jim from some slave traders on the Mississippi river but tells them that Jim has small pox; this turns the traders away and saves Jim. Huck knows it’s against society and religion to free Jim, but his friendship means more to Huck than doing what society has taught him to be “right”.
Jim treated Huck like his own child and Huck knows that if Jim could have anything in the world; it would to be a free man. Huck finally makes his decision and says “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” This goes against society, but Huck is convinced by his moral conscious to rescue Jim. When Huck rescues Jim he, whether knowingly or not, accepts many responsibilities with the friendship. By lying to save Jim he also puts him in danger. Huck accepts the responsibility of preserving Jim’s life because if Jim is found he will be taken back as a slave and will most likely be severely beaten or sold to another slave owner.
Huck also has a responsibility to preserve his own life, for if Jim is found he is sure to be reprimanded also. It is also important that Huck keep his life safe because not only does he provide Jim with physical protection but also with emotional protection; he provides Jim with a friend and someone to trust. This shows that Huck has not only one responsibility but several; the responsibility for the protection of Jim’s and his own life, and the protection of their friendship, both in a way effecting the other.
Independence is not only doing things for yourself but also being able to make decisions on your own. Huck continually shows these attributes throughout the book. It is shown when he first questions Tom about the Arabs, showing his independent thinking. His independence is very evident by his opinions of society. The woods are where Finn displays a heightened sense of independence, because he sees nature as a safe haven away from others, a place where he can vent off the dilemmas in his life, a place where he can be alone.
His independence continually grows and is more clearly shown when he decides to help Jim. He is also shown to be very independent throughout the journey; nobody but himself can help Jim because of social difficulties. Huckleberry Finn shows growing maturity in many ways throughout the book. He shows it in his nonconformity, his acceptance of responsibility, and his growing independence. All of these traits lead him to his coming of age. And show the theme of maturity in many ways.