Huck’s moral journey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is about the journey Huck goes through, facing the challenges of living on a raft and constantly looking for food and money. However as Huck makes his journey down the river he makes a moral one as well. In the beginning of the novel Huck’s way of thinking is childish and heavily influenced by the widow and Pap, by the middle of his journey his own morals start to change and he is able to identify right and wrong despite what society thinks, and finally by the end Huck see’s how corrupt civilization is.
In the beginning of the novel Huck has an immature way of thinking, and is affected by the widow who tries to civilize him and pap, who tries to bring Huck down to his level. Pap does not want Huck to become educated and civilized, because he dislikes the idea of his own son being better than him. “I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs over his own father and let on to be better ‘n what he is.” (p.20) Pap’s decision affects Huck, because he can’t decide for himself what he wants.
His father constantly holds huck back, and therefore Huck can’t establish what’s right and wrong. Because Huck is so restricted, that is why he is childish in his thinking, meaning he can’t see deeply into matters, and always interprets them in at a basic level. “…but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn’t care no more about him.” (p.4) The Widow is trying to civilize Huck in this scene through religion; however Huck stops caring about the story once he finds out that Moses is dead. Huck’s reaction to the story is childish because he cannot see the moral of the story, and he cannot move past the fact that Moses is dead. Huck’s immaturity is a part of Huck in the beginning of the novel, but it slowly wears off as he ascends into his journey.
By the middle of his journey Huck begins to show maturity, he is able to distinguish between what’s morally right and wrong despite societies influence. One-way Huck shows significant maturity is with his growing friendship with Jim. “I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d knowed it would make him feel that way.” (p.84) Huck feels remorseful for what he did to Jim, because he realizes that Jim actually cares for him. At this point both Huck and Jim build a closer relationship. Huck’s maturity can be seen from this scene because, he see’s Jim as an equal and not as a slave. Huck even protects Jim knowing that it is morally wrong. “He’s white.” (p.87) Huck protects Jim’s identity be saying he is white. Huck has clearly matured a lot since the beginning because he can decide for himself what is right and wrong. Despite what society says Huck knows in is heart what is right and follows his own values. Towards the end of the journey Huck leaves behind his immature, self-centered self and becomes more mature and a caring person.
By the end of the novel Huck has grown so much, emotionally and spiritually, he realizes how corrupt society is. “…but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and he knowed it. You can’t pray a lie…” (p.205) Huck shows his view on religion in this scene, because it is evident that he believes in god, and he also knows that a prayer has to be honest. Huck is not able to pray, because he knows that he can’t become the boy that society wants him to be, and since he realizes it, it shows his growth. This is significant because Huck is able to be truthful to himself; because in the beginning he did things based on what society said was right. Huck has reached a point in his journey where he realizes that society is not morally correct.
He see’s the flaw in society; because there is no explanation for things, people just do what they are told. Huck knows that it is morally wrong in society to be friends with a slave, but he goes against society and is honest with himself. “…People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum… I ain’t a-going to tell” (p.43) Huck keeps a promise to Jim saying that he will not rat him out, and even though this takes place earlier in the journey, Huck keeps his promise. At times Huck will contemplate the risks of hiding Jim, but Huck values his friendship more than society. This proves Huck’s maturity because he cares about someone else instead of being self-centered. Over the course of the journey Huck grows into a person that is selfless, and has evolved into a mature person that greatly contrasts his character in the beginning of the novel.
Huck’s journey throughout the novel is remarkable as he starts out as an immature boy, and is held down by the Widow and Pap, and then by the middle of his journey he starts to mature and think for himself, and by the end he realizes that society is a joke and has his own morals and values. Huck Finn shows his maturity by seeing Jim as an equal, and by being truthful to himself and following his own values.