Huck Finn Morality Analysis

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Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows how ethical morals often contrast with societal expectations. The novel follows the trials and tribulations of a young boy from Missouri named Huck and his adventures down the mighty Mississippi with his guardian’s slave, Jim. Huck’s bold personality helps develop his understanding of the world around him. Twain’s characters assist in portraying the hypocrisy of the Southern culture. The setting of the novel implicitly illustrates the dynamic nature of emotional morality; the confusion behind the personal meaning of right and wrong stems from historical expectations and norms. Twain’s plot of a boy with a sense of adventure restricted by civilization is essential to analyzing the stark contrast …show more content…
Miss Watson, who is properly educated, well-versed in the Bible, and respectful, takes Huck in to teach him how to be a “sivilized” member of society (2), which is essentially conformity to societal expectations and obedience of the law. However, Miss Watson has slaves including Huck’s friend, Jim. The contrast of Miss Watson as an exemplary and model citizen clashes with her ownership of slaves. Jim runs away from Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas because he believes Miss Watson would split his family and sell him down the river for $800 (45). At the end of the novel, Miss Watson sets Jim free in her will because Miss Watson finally realized “she was ashamed she was ever going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she set him free in her will” (291). Miss Watson is a dynamic character who is outwardly civilized and becomes more morally civilized as the novel progresses. However, there are characters in the novel that do not possess both respect of society’s moral code and emotional morality. Following a shipwreck, Huck stumbles along the home of the Grangerfords, a very wealthy family. They live in an elaborate home and attend church; the family even takes Huck in as one of their own. However, the family feuds with the Shephardsons, another affluent clan in the area, over a cause covered in the dust of time. The families bring their guns to church and violate the Biblical principle of “love thy neighbor.” While at church, the subject of the sermon was “ornery preaching- all about brotherly love” (112) and Twain implicitly reveals the hypocrisy of their practice of religion as it when compared to the biblical code of life. Twain uses the feud to indicate how, although some people appear to be upright and proper, their outward trappings do not reveal their inhumane

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