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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay

Being a parent is not only about providing a roof over ones head, clothes on their back or food in the belly, it is about responsibility and lessons learned. Huck had never had an adult male to talk to; Jim was a very smart black man and Huck realized he could learn a lot from him. Huck finally had someone he could look up to. “We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed—only a little kind of a low chuckle.

We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all—that night, nor the next, nor the next” (Twain 12). As Mark Twain’s character Jim shows us in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, being a parent is about being there during good and bad times throughout life’s adventures. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain identified several major flaws in Southern culture, including the “culture of decadence,” the gullibility of people and the treatment of slaves.

Through the experiences of Huck Finn he was able to provide the reader with a “panorama of American life (Microsoft Encarta 2000) before the Civil War. ” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is told in the first person perspective; the story has 43 chapters. In the first section, the main character “Huck” lets you know who he is and how he feels about his adventures from beginning to end. During the second section Huck meets Jim and starts down the river and lands on Uncle Silas’ farm. The third and final section takes place at the farm and continues to the end of the book (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).

Huck introduces you to several characters early on such as The Widow Douglas and Judge Thatcher. Both of these characters appear to have Huck’s best interest at heart, but do not go about things the right way. For example Huck tells us “The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names too, but she never meant no harm by it. She put me in them new clothes again, and I couldn’t do nothing but sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up (Twain). ” The widow was determined to bring Huck up to society standards, to be respectful and have manners.

The Widow’s sister Miss Watson was an old maid who was set on teaching Huck about religion. She simply could not understand why anyone would want to go anywhere but the “good place”. “Miss Watson she kept pecking at me, and it got tiresome and lonesome (Twain). ” The Widow Douglas had enrolled Huck into school; “At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I could stand it (Twain). ” School had become easier for Huck as time went by and he was finding the Widow less annoying as well. Judge Thatcher was determined to look after Huck’s money.

Huck tried to give him all of the money, but the Judge set it up in a fund for him and made certain it went into the bank for safe keeping. However, after discovering Huck’s father was still alive, he mistakenly thought it would be good for Huck and his father to make amends. Huck soon knew the real reason his father reappeared into his life and that was simply for his new found money. Huck’s father referred to in the story as Pap is a harsh character. He had been very abusive to Huck in the past and Huck feared the future with him would not be any better. Unfortunately for Huck he was correct.

Pap was not happy when he found Huck living a better life with the widow. He thought Huck was putting on airs and that did not please him. He ordered Huck to quit school as he did not want Huck to become smarter than he was. Pap was extremely jealous of Huck’s good fortune; a nice bed, carpeted floor and roof over his head. Although the Judge and widow tried to end Pap’s parental rights the courts would not agree, they did not believe in separating families. The new judge tried to civilize Pap, but Pap just went back to getting drunk around town and stirring up all kinds of problems.

Pap was a racist, alcoholic who was only after one thing and that was money. After a while Pap decided to steal Huck away from the widow. The next character we are introduced to is Miss Watson’s slave Jim. Once Jim discovered that Miss Watson was going to sell him, further separating him from his family, he decides to run for his freedom. After Huck decides he can no longer take the abuse from his father, he fakes his own death and he and Jim end up traveling down the Mississippi River together. Jim was a large well spoken black man whom Huck enjoyed listening too.

Upon Jim’s departure from Miss Watson, he is immediately sought on suspicion of Huck’s murder. Jim just wanted to get away, earn some money and come back to buy his family’s freedom. It was during this time period that slavery was being abolished in the northern states. While hiding on Jackson’s Island, Huck and Jim meet up with each other. Huck faces moral conflict as he decides whether or not to turn Jim over to the law. Since society at that time dictates that black people are supposed to be slaves and cannot run free, Huck is concerned about helping Jim to escape.

However, they set out together towards the Ohio River on a raft that they built together. “Before they leave Jackson’s Island, they find a dead man – but Jim won’t let Huck look at the guy’s face on account of it being “too gashly” (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary). ” This is the first time Jim shields Huck from the identity of the man in the shack; it is Huck’s father. Jim’s gesture is that of a man trying to protect Huck from seeing his dead father. He is the first person in the story to show a real interest in what is best for Huck.

As Jim and Huck’s adventure continues they meet up with three robbers while climbing around on a wrecked steamship. Two of the robbers are trying to kill the third robber and Huck wants to get help, eventually all three of the robbers die and Huck and Jim get away. This is Huck’s first real experience with murder. After traveling south on the Mississippi River, Huck goes ashore to find out where they are. It is now that he realizes that he could be suspected of stealing Miss Watson’s property.

“Huck discovers he just can’t “harden himself” against Jim to turn him in and so concludes he’ll just “go to hell and take up wickedness again” by keeping his friend liberated. Huck’s moral tension seems to be between his head and his heart. He knows what is right – what the law says – but can’t bring himself to do it (Marklerch). ” When he returns to where Jim is, Huck must let him know they missed Cairo; their exit that they were looking for. At this point they are nearly ran over by a steam ship and both thrown from the raft.

“Huck’s decision to rescure Jim is expedient and humane simultaneously (Blair and Fischer). ” At one point in the story Huck feels ashamed for lying to Jim in the name of a joke. Huck finally begins to realize Jim is a real person just like himself. He had always been told that Blacks were not people, just animals to be used as whites see fit. Huck is then taken in by a wealthy family called the Grangerfords. The Granergfords are fighting with their neighbors the Shepherdsons. The Grangerford’s son is named Buck, he is around the same age as Huck.

During the fighting with the Shepherdsons Buck is shot. Huck finds this behavior ridiculous and leaves as quickly as possible. Here again is another lesson about people and society that shows Huck bad behavior. The next criminals that Huck befriends are referred to as “The King and the Duke” (Humanities UCI). Niether of the men previously knew each other prior to this chance encounter, but immediately start plotting their new con. This is where Huck learns the meaning of gullible; many townspeople give the two con artists money for a play that is performed badly.

The townspeople are trusting and of religious nature and the two men make off with almost ninety dollars. When the two cons attempt to scam three ladies out of their inheritance by pretending to be the Uncle’s brothers, Huck gets to feeling guilty and tries to think of a way to give the money back. He manages to steal the money back and hides it in the casket of the ladies uncle. After the uncle is buried he lets the ladies know where the money is and manages to flea before the real brothers’ show up. Unfortunately the two con men are still with Huck and Jim.

Once the two cons realize they have no money they steal and sell Jim. Huck is determined to get Jim back and luckily runs into his old buddy Tom Sawyer who is glad to help. During the escape attempt and Tom’s silly hi-jinks; Tom ends up being shot in the calf of his leg. Once back at the raft Jim hides in the bushes and Huck goes to find a doctor. Jim is re-captured and the doctor stands up for Jim saying that he assisted with Tom’s care, so instead of killing Jim they decide to enslave him once again.

Upon Tom’s recovery he informs those holding Jim that upon Miss Watson’s death she set Jim free in her will, so they no longer can hold Jim as a slave. Jim is set free and finally admits to Huck that the man in the shack was his father, Pap and he no longer needs to worry about him. Instead of going back to the widow’s, Huck decides to set out west so he can have more adventures. Huck’s character was made to witness a large amount of cruelty. “Huck perceives that “human beings can be awful cruel to one another” (262). Huck has seen the worst conceivable forms of behavior.

But his awareness means that, no matter how much cruelty he witnesses or who perpetrates it, he will remain compassionate towards all human beings (Burg). ” Like the Huck Finn character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain faced emotional growth during his writings. As he experienced life, Twain reminisced in his books by focusing on his hometown and era in which he grew up. “Although Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contains some very poignant critiques of slavery, discrimination, and society in general, it is also important as the story of Huck’s journey from boyhood to manhood (History of Hannibal, Missouri, Back to Marion County).

”As an impressionable boy growing up in Hannibal, MO Twain had many of the same types of experiences has Huck. There was swimming, fishing, climbing and cave exploration. He spent much of his time watching the steam ships sail on the river carrying their wares. In Hannibal there were also murders, slaves being whipped and gangs who preyed on river towns (Twains Aurthor Series – Chapter Display). “Mark Twain “agreed with Huck that environment determines morality. ” All morality is merely relative.

Mark Twain wrote in the margin of his copy of Lecky, “All moral perceptions are acquired by the influences around us; these influences begin in infancy; we never get a chance to find out whether we have any that are innate or not (Blair and Fischer). ” Twain shows us through Huck’s adventure that he has grown up on the inside to appreciate his freedom and the people around him. Huck has learned to see all people as human and no longer just by their skin tone, black or white. “I knowed he was white inside (Twain)”.

This statement clearly shows that Huck views Jim as a close and personal friend and confidant. Throughout the story you see the influence Jim has on Huck. “Jim becomes a father figure –the first Huck ever had in his life. Jim teaches Huck right and wrong, and an emotional bond develops through the course of their journey down the river. By the last segment of the novel, Huck has learned to think like a man instead of a boy (about). ” As Mark Twain’s character Jim shows us in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, being a parent is about being there during good and bad times throughout life’s adventures.

Citations 2011 <http://classiclit. about. com/od/adventuresofhuckleberry/fr/aa_huckfinn. htm>. Blair, Walter and Victor Fischer. March 1990. 22 January 2011 <http://www. jstor. org/stable/2926787>. Burg, David F. December 1974. 17 January 2011 <http://www. jstor. org/stable/2933172>. History of Hannibal, Missouri, Back to Marion County. 20 January 2011 <http://www. rootsweb. ancestry. com/~marion/hannhist. htm>. Humanities UCI. 2005. 20 January 2011 <http://www. humanities. uci. edu/mclark/HumCore/CoreF2005/WebCoreF05/F)5TTwa.

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