Satire in Huckleberry Finn Essay
Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website!
Chapters 1-4: Superstition In chapters 1-4 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Twain’s characters tend to get worked up over the silliest of superstitions. In the second chapter, when Huck accidentally flicks a spider into a flame, he, “Was so scared and most shook the clothes off [him]” (Twain 3). He counters the burden that the dead spider will bring by performing plenty of even more odd acts like turning around while crossing his breast and tying up a lock of his hair to ward off the witches.
Huck is still anxious because he hadn’t been told that any of those counter charms were good for removing the penance of killing a spider. Most superstitions throughout these chapters stem from one person telling another of an irrational belief they hold as the truth like Jim’s “magical” hair-ball that he profits off of by telling people very vague fortunes (Twain 17-18). Some of these fortunes come true, so people tell others about the miraculous magic hair-ball.
Superstition is an issue that has been around forever, and will probably be around forever. A psychologist, B. F. Skinner, discovered that any animal will develop superstitions, we are all just wired that way. For example, if one makes a bad grade on a test Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and it rains Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one may start to believe that the rain is the reason why they have bad test grades just because of the correlation . Because of this, they may never want to take tests when it rains.
Today, superstitions are less abundant because of widespread knowledge of science and reasoning, but it can still be observed in sports and religion where people do things really without a reason or don’t really understand why. They just do it because they’ve always done it. Superstition today does not really harm society but honestly makes it more interesting. Chapter 5: Greed In chapter 5, Mark Twain’s character, Pap Finn portrays greed in it’s purest form, and that is, in a stinky, rotten, hairy, drunkard. Pap Finn never does anything unless it benefits himself.
Pap never helped another person out in the entire novel if it meant he had to lift a finger. He only even visits his only son whenever he needs money. When Huck finds Pap in his room right after hearing Jim’s fortune about the appearance happening, Pap first orders Huck to stop being smart because it’s making him look bad, and then reveals the real reason for his sudden showing up when he demands, “You git me that money tomorrow—I want it” (Twain 20). Pap uses the last bit of his power, his father authority, to exercise his greediness. Twain uses Pap to prove that absolute greediness is illogical.
Even though Pap does whatever he can to help himself, because he was not good to others like his son, he receives none of the wealth that Huck has gained which would be given to a decent father. Greed is strongly prevalent today, especially in our economy. The American capitalistic economy is strongly centered on greed and excess. The highest ranking person in a business is really almost just like Pap, except they are rich and all.. The banks often try to profit quickly from the less fortunate by mortgage scams and placing many in debt and in even worse conditions than they were already in.
CEO’s and executives on Wall Street find loopholes to help themselves without even considering the lasting effects on the economy. Of course, there is greed and corruption in the government too. I think that this positively reinforced greed has really damaged the country. Greediness is the heart of America, but if it doesn’t have boundaries, we may all turn into very lewd Pap Finns. Chapter 8: Slavery Twain, in chapter 8, demonstrates how slavery rips apart the moral fabric of a society by exposing the hypocrisy and underlying effects of the issue.
Slavery corrodes the slave owner just as much as the slave as evidenced by Miss Watson lying about never sending Jim to New Orleans, but since the money was worth more to her than a human life, she goes back on her promise (Twain 43). Despite Miss Watson’s piety, because she owns a slave, her morals are allowed to break down, and she breaks a commandment and goes against the bible when she greedily accepts the money. Jim, as a slave, is always in fear. He was afraid of Miss Watson’s treatment when he lived with her, afraid of being sent to be a plantation worker, and now terrified of being caught as a runaway (Twain 43).
This alone is enough to ruin his humanity, not to mention his physical beatings as well. The only thing he has to hold on to are his various superstitions like, “You musn’t count the things you are going to cook for dinner, because that would bring bad luck” (Twain 45), and all of the signs and other things he points out. Huckleberry, even though he is very fond of Jim, constantly refers to him as “Miss Watson’s Jim” (Twain), reminding the reader that Huck’s society was taught that slaves were just property and nothing more.
Because of slavery, the southern society in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has a lapse in morals by almost all of the whites, actually supports the devastatingly inhumane psychological and physiological treatment of humans, and contains seriously horrible false perceptions and prejudices. Slavery is not really an issue today. It has been abolished for over 100 years now. Although, the fact that (southern) society is functioning much better than it did back then proves that the slave-centered society was not only morally atrocious but also financially weak.
The slave owners owned almost all of the wealth in the southern society. The poorer whites all idolized the planter aristocracy, but the aristocracy was hogging all of the wealth and causing the poverty. The Impending Crisis of the South by Hinton Helper, used charts and graphs to explain how exactly the non-slave holding whites were actually being harmed by the institution. The book was quickly ordered to be burned by the planter aristocracy. The only reason the poor whites kept voting for slavery was because they hoped to someday own slaves, and because they liked feeling racially superior.
Slavery ended, and a few decades or so later, almost everybody was pretty much content with the way society was functioning Chapters 12-13: Man’s Inhumanity/Cruelty to Man In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn is initially not one to stray away from violence and is typically fascinated with it. However, when Twain transitions the violence from make-believe with the band of robbers with Tom Sawyer to bloody, cruel violence on the steamboat, he exposes another moral atrocity by examining it through the eyes of a young boy.
Although Huck had been intrigued with murdering and robbing in the beginning of the book, in chapter 12, Huck is greeted by actual violence and death, and realizes how awful it really is. On the steamboat, Huck reacts extremely impulsively when he realizes that the men are actually going to die. He becomes alarmed and heroically wants to save them even if it meant risking his own life (Twain 69-70). Even though Huck had been raised by an outrageously selfish father, and even though he pretends not to be bothered by blood and guts, when confronted with real violence, he puts aside his own need to rescue another.
A young, barely educated child can realize how barbaric cruelty to another human is, but the frequency of such events have just desensitized most adults from realize the true monstrosity. I strongly agree with Twain’s idea that most people are born innocent. Not a great number of killings have been done by young children. Today, I think most of the worst cruel, inhumane treatment is done by people with psychological issues. A lot is done by people who have grown up in an environment that has desensitized them to violence like gangs, drug dealers, and the even the military.
The media also plays a role in sustaining inhumanity. The increased violence in video games and on TV shows has made violent events part of every day life. Although I do think most people can differentiate between real violence and fantasy, I also believe that making gore so prevalent has made it seem less serious than it actually is. To me, inhumanity is probably the most disturbing issue. I sympathize immensely with people in poverty, and I really hate people being treated unfairly, but I sometimes cannot even stand to hear or look at somebody treating another person like an animal or even saying awful things to them.
Chapter 6: prejudices/biases In chapter 6 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain satires black prejudice by contrasting a white man and a black man. The white man, Pap Finn is dirty, hairy, greasy, and illiterate. He is infuriated that a black man is allowed the right to vote even though he is, “Most white as a white man”(Twain 27). Pap Finn portrays the white man as evil and racist in the novel. The free black man is the complete opposite of Pap. He is clean, well-educated and nicely dressed (Twain 27). The differences in this man and Pap exacerbate Pap.
Just being black was enough to gain Pap’s hate, but since it was a smart, clean, well-dressed black man, it set him off. Twain disproves the idea of black men being stupid and uncivilized and white men being the better breed by filling the book with exceptions to these claims. I think that people today do get flustered by people being different and come up with racist ideas to help them cope with that. I guess I still live in my own little bubble of Kingwood suburbia, but I have not seen much evidence of extreme racism. I don’t even really feel prejudice often either.
I try to be analytical of people, but hardly ever base anything off of one’s race. I know dangerous racism is still occurring in the deep south, but honestly, it’s dying out because more and more people are realizing what Twain was preaching. All men are created equal. I think that homosexuals are the next group that will be vindicated. Their civil rights movement is following more of the same patterns as previous ones. People have been slowly understanding them more and more. It is just hard for some to dismiss previously held beliefs.