Huckleberry Finn Morality Essay

Great Essays
Question: Referring to as many parts in Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” as you deem relevant, examine Huck’s tussle with “morality”.
In Huckleberry Finn, the issues of morality, race and societal hypocrisies are examined and satirized in the light of Huck’s growing moral constitution. Huck’s initial code of morality is presented as antithetical to society’s notions of morality and legality; often landing him in moral dilemmas and crises. However, it is undeniable that these struggles provided Huck the opportunities to learn and acquire new vistas of morality; adding on to his own survivalist moral codes which may at best be described as instinctive, functional and situational. As Huck tussles between believing in his own moral
…show more content…
Huck, by now, is resolute in his mission to save Jim, faces more moral challenges on land. Huck endeared himself to the hospitality of the affluent and cultured Grangerfords and when Jim pleaded with him to escape, Huck refused. It is only when Jim was whipped and the Grangerford’s bloody feud with their neighbors and Shepherdsons boiled over, did Huck decide to leave with Jim. Huck also “cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me.” (175) and apologizes for lying about his identity. By now, Huck is beginning to demonstrate that he is departing from the street moral code of instinctive, functional and situational mores. His morality is sensitized into evaluating the antebellum South’s unthinking values on tradition and honor, church and feuding as futile and pointless violence: “The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same’ (169)” Later witnessing the slaughter of the Grangerfords traumatizes Huck as he declares that “it made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain’t agoing to tell all that happened” …show more content…
Huck ponders: “I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix....” (127) Huck, feeling morally obligated to correct his wrong, informs a captain in hopes that the three criminals will be rescued before drowning in the wreckage. His evolving constitution of morality is seen in the episode where Huck discovers the plans of the King and the Duke to swindle the Wilks sisters of their uncle’s fortune. He was so appalled that “enough to make a body ashamed of the human race” (226). His subsequent effort to help Mary Jane to recover the inheritance was an exemplary act of moral courage as he has to put his life on the line. His revelation of the two fraudsters caused them to be “tarred and feathered” (254) and Huck in a measured display of human compassion remarked that: “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.” (302)
Huck comes to terms that morality and legality are at odds and he has to have his own moral stand. He was visibly shaken by Sheriff Sherburne’s indiscriminate killing of Boggs, the town drunkard who was “the best-naturedest old fool in Arkansaw – never hurt nobody, drunk nor sober” (204). This incident made Huck realized that like slavery, what is legal may not be

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Crucible Love Quotes

    • 1024 Words
    • 5 Pages

    He values his dignity and reputation as much as life; however, love has forced him to criticize himself. Likewise, when Elizabeth is asked to confirm his treachery, her love for John Proctor drives her to go against her integrity to always be honest. When asked if Proctor committed lechery, she lies for the first time and responds “no” (Miller 113). Soon…

    • 1024 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Essay On Guilt In Macbeth

    • 1278 Words
    • 6 Pages

    In fact, he relishes the fact that Piggy has died by using it to threaten the others on the island and assert his dominance. The savagery and evil inside of him prevents Jack from feeling any guilt; his innocence has officially been completely lost. On the other hand, Macbeth, after having killed King Duncan, experiences intense guilt, intensified by the realization that his actions have not gone as planned. While speaking to himself, Macbeth expresses regret, musing, “For [Banquo’s sons] the gracious Duncan have I murdered; put rancors in the vessel of my peace” (3.1.69-70). Macbeth, guilt-ridden over killing Duncan, who he describes as a “gracious” king, is experiencing the effects of one’s superego.…

    • 1278 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “Now was the first time that I begun to worry about the men- I reckon I hadn't had time before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for the murderers, to be in such a fix.” (Twain, 58). This is an example of Huck’s growth, Huck wanted to hurt the murderers for what they did, but after the murders got that they deserved anyways, Huck felt bad. He put himself into the shoes of those on the steamboat, feeling dreadful for even the bad guys of the situation. Huck goes in between choices, of what he thinks is the best decision by acting on impulse (the id), or by letting things go their own way.…

    • 815 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Mayella was, in her own right, a sort of mockingbird; causing further damage to a victim of savage beatings, negligence, and perhaps even molestation would be a sin. Boo may have been mentally unstable, but he wasn’t a bad person; he too was a mockingbird of his own right, being raised by a father that Calpurnia claimed was “the meanest man ever God blew breath into” (Lee 19). Whether they deserved it or not, all three of these characters received at least a little compassion throughout the novel. After all, even Atticus said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee…

    • 1014 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Character Foils In Hamlet

    • 1374 Words
    • 5 Pages

    He immediately gets defensive, proclaiming to Gertrude that Polonius was a fool for spying on their conversation and that he got what he deserved. While it can be argued that Hamlet is guiltless over the murder of Polonius, it is more probable that Hamlet only turns to victim blaming because he needs to validate his actions to Gertrude. Gertrude supports this idea in the excerpt because she says that his remorse, along with his madness allow his good aspects to make themselves…

    • 1374 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The truth is that the boy is innocent the members of the jury are just judgemental people. Judgment is a huge thing in these two stories: To Kill a Mockingbird and 12 Angry…

    • 856 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Judge Danforth wrongly condemns and hangs townspeople, yet refuses to admit his faults. By contrast, John Proctor is an ashamed lecher, but prioritizes saving his wife and saving the unjustly convicted people who are still alive. Throughout The Crucible, Arthur Miller utilizes corrupt male authority figures…

    • 1366 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    When one needs to question his or her morals like Huck Finn, it concludes that his society’s morals are likely to be unjust. Mark Twain’s ideas shine through Huck Finn’s character. Huck’s evolving thinking questions his own society and shows how Twain suggests that morality in the novel is…

    • 774 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “You do wrong when you take good men for bad and bad men for good. A true friend is thrown aside why, is life itself not more precious?” Creon tried everything to prove himself. In spite of all that has happened, Oedipus was convinced still that Creon was the murderer. “The news came that King Polybus has died a natural death appears at first to support her claim that the oracles and prophets are not to be feared, this good news for the house of Oedipus should also cure his anxiety which has so distressed the city” (Newton) As we take another look at Oedipus downfall, he did not want to listen to the prophet. He also did not want to listen when it was told that he was adopted.…

    • 1528 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Revenge captures the hearts and minds of powerful rulers, lowly homemakers, and innocent children alike, and while it can be all consuming and superficially satisfying, vengeance always harms those who seek it. All know the blaze of vengeful feelings, however, not all realize the impossibility of truly successful revenge. The characters in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet find themselves obsessing over vengeance as their decaying country and corrupted court fall to shambles. Hamlet loses his father to murder, then, surrounded by the suspicion of family and friends, his fraudulent uncle becomes king. Likewise, Laertes, his father slain by Hamlet, is subject to the surveillance of many, constantly watched and noted upon.…

    • 1212 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays