Huckleberry Finn Moral Development

Good Essays
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain chronicles Huck’s experiences after he runs away from home. As he makes his way down the Mississippi River, he encounters murderers, frauds, and conmen, forcing him to confront his own sense of morality. During most of his journey, Huck prefers to disregard right and wrong and avoid situations which make him feel guilty or “lowdown.” He reaches a moment of growth where he finally takes responsibility for his feelings, only to lose that growth soon after. He defaults back to his original passivity because he believes that nothing has changed, despite his actions. This sense of cynicism prevents him from truly changing, even though he begins the process of moral growth and achieving moral responsibility. …show more content…
Seeing the king and the duke scam the Wilks makes him feel so “low down” that he makes up his mind to “hive that money for them or bust” (117). Instead of avoiding what makes him feel guilty or ignoring thinking about right and wrong in the first place, Huck takes the initiative to improve the situation. He is willing to face the consequences of trying to steal the money back to feel better about himself. This trend of growth continues when Jim is sold to the Phelps. Choosing between abandoning and rescuing Jim is “a close place,” but Huck eventually relents, saying “all right, then, I’ll go to hell” (215). Although the decision is a difficult one, he makes a choice, a choice against convenience. In Huck’s mind, saving Jim is the opposite of “whatever comes handiest,” because, now, he is damned to hell (97). He abandons the path of least resistance when he makes that decision, demonstrating his ability to confront his bad feelings. Instead of running away from difficult choices, he is willing to make what he believes is the right decision to make, no matter what the consequences might …show more content…
Nothing has changed, he tells himself. The story ends with his declaration that he is going to escape to the Territory before Aunt Sally can “sivilize” him, saying that he has “been there before” (292). Despite running away, despite choosing to help the Wilks, despite damning himself to hell to save Jim, Huck finds himself in a similar place to where he started- stuck in a house, being forced to civilize himself. He even returns to the same relationship with Tom. While planning Jim’s rescue, Tom takes control, making the plan overly complicated and dramatic Huck knows the plan might get them “all killed besides” (234), but decides that “it warn’t no use to say any more” (235). Huck resigns himself to playing Tom’s sidekick, returning to his philosophy of least resistance. Being thrust back into the environment he escapes from at the beginning of his story confirms nothing has changed. According to him, if Tom decided to do something, he “couldn’t help it” (235). All of his decisions have led him to where he started, so he believes that there is no use in making decisions. Learning that Jim is, in fact, a free man further gives Huck proof that his choices do not matter. He is incredulous that Tom “had… took all that trouble to set a free nigger free” (289). Now that he knows the truth, his rescue attempt seems ridiculous and troublesome, as there is no use in freeing a free person. His

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Oedipus has a very confident and ignorant personality so he believes that he can never do wrong. Tiresias warns Oedipus, “You and your loved ones live together in infamy, you cannot see how far you’ve gone in guilt” (Sophocles). Oedipus is warned early in the play about the truth, but he refuses to believe the possibility and he rejects Tiresias help, which ends up causing him more trouble in the future. Henry ford once said, “if you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” This quote contradicts Oedipus’s actions since he believes that he is right but in reality he is actually wrong. Anderton also has his own set of fatal flaws.…

    • 1091 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Although Huck describes his actions as "dirty low-down business", he does it anyway because his truth, which is relative to him, is that Jim is noble and deserves to be free. Huck takes a major risk by asking Tom to help him steal Jim, which exhibits the extent to which Huck is willing to go to save his friend. The feelings that Huck has developed towards Jim have allowed him to neglect society’s standards and make decisions based upon his intuition for good. Therefore this is a large step for Huck in terms of morality because he no longer relies upon society or religion to dictate his decisions. Huck also describes himself as "low-down", which gives us insight to the way Huck perceives himself and how he is fine with being low-down if it means saving a friend.…

    • 1145 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Overall, Odysseus is an unsuccessful leader because he puts their lives in danger, does not stop them from making bad decisions, and he cannot prevent any casualties. Numerous times, Odysseus endangers his crew for his own selfish desires. When entering the Cyclops' cave, his men suggest that they should quickly take supplies and leave, but Odysseus refuses because he "wished to see the cave man, what he had to offer – no pretty sight, it turned out, for my friends" (153). In the same story, Odysseus wants to once again bask in his own ego by informing him of the men who his defeater was. Once out of the cave, Odysseus sours his sweet victory by turning back, taunting the Cyclops and saying "'Cyclops, if ever mortal man inquires how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes' son, whose…

    • 836 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Whilst being shot down Jack retorts, stating “He’d never got us any meat” (Golding 126). By mentioning this, Jack clearly believes that possessing efficient hunting skills by far make him a better leader and that 's the reason the others should remove Ralph and join him. This god given gift Jack thinks he has, was actually power delegation performed by Ralph at the beginning, yet rather be content with what he received, Jack became power hungry therefore wanting to impeach Ralph. Another example on why Jack would be a bad leader can be found in his need to hide himself. Originally to serve as camouflage this quickly becomes something more to him,“The Mask was a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, liberated from shame and self-consciousness” (Golding 64).…

    • 1659 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Brutus Weaknesses

    • 1549 Words
    • 7 Pages

    This example displays Brutus’ tragic flaw of being too trusting in his own ideas. This plan eventually backfires and both, Cassius and Brutus die on the day of the battle. This shows how Brutus’ tragic flaw of trusting his own ideas too much, can lead to his downfall. He convinces the others that it is best to march to Philippi, without giving the other plan much thought. Brutus is caught up in thinking he is right all of the time, that he does not ponder other ideas and thinks to quickly about one.…

    • 1549 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Huck’s first time showing any form of maturity through attachment is when he decided to go out of his way to warn Jim “there ain’t a minute to lose. They’re after us!” (Twain 47). Not only did Huck decide to assist someone besides himself, he also uses the word “we” to refer to the bond he has created between himself and Jim. Normally, the society of the time and his past actions would lead the reader to believe that Huck would rather ditch Jim and help himself. However, Huck decides to take the first step in creating his own moral code by making his own unique decision.…

    • 1363 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Arguably, George never crosses the return threshold, even though he is free from what partially held him back. After pointing the search party in the wrong direction, he goes to find Lennie in their safe place by the Salinas River. His decision to kill Lennie was not so he could be granted autonomy, but more so for the protection of his best friend. This is made undeniably clear as Lennie begs for George to “give [him] hell,” (Steinbeck 51) and as George begins to scold Lennie for his actions, an wave of emotions falls over him. He wanted Lennie to die at peace, rather than being punished for something he did not intend to happen.…

    • 775 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Tom still views him as a character in his grand scheme of helping a slave runaway, bearing in mind that Jim was already set free, while Huck saw him as a friend stuck in an unimaginable adversity. This is a great change in Huck as he understands that cutting off Jim’s leg will end Jim’s goal of reaching freedom and being able to rescue his family. Additionally, he learns to be sensitive to others in regards to his actions. Tom’s plan would disable Jim, thus ruining his life, but it would not have an effect on Tom so he does not see it as an issue. However, Huck, now matured, sees that if he does proceed with this atrocity, then Jim will forever be maimed: Huck’s action would ruin Jim’s life.…

    • 994 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Huck wants to be responsible for the trouble caused by his foolish action when in reality, he has done nothing wrong and could flee with Jim if he decides to. Huck chooses to help until the Grangerfords breaks apart, doing everything he could to make up for his mistake. Huck also takes responsibility for Jim’s freedom. When Jim disappears, Huck looks for him and saves him. Huck knows he is the only person who can fight for Jim’s freedom so he endeavors and perseveres to take charge of Jim’s destiny.…

    • 765 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Huckleberry exclaims, “I felt so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind 's made up; I 'll hive that money for them or bust.” Huck has made up his mind to hide the money from the Duke and Dauphin because he felt very bad for the sisters, who would have been cheated out of money. He takes the money from he Duke and Dauphin and hides it in the coffin. Huck is showing moral progression because he is able to differentiate between right and wrong, and he does what is morally correct to keep the money away from the con artists. He exhibits sympathy towards the girls, and as a result does what is best for them even by putting himself at risk to get into trouble with the Duke and Dauphin. In his final interaction with the Duke and Dauphin, Huck states, “I didn 't want no trouble with their kind.…

    • 1975 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays