The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Entries

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2019/08/26
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Page 20: “Which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call that government!”

Initially, the depictions of Huck’s father seem to depict imagery more in line with a slave and slave owner rather than a father and son.

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As soon as Huck’s father returns to his life, Judge Thatcher and the Widow Douglas try to get custody of him so that he can keep his money and be safe from his father. While Huck is staying with his father during the proceedings, Huck’s father rants about Huck:

“Which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call that government!” (Twain 20).

In his brief rant to Huck, his father reveals to the reader that he views his son more as property, like a slave, rather than a loved son. Following Huck’s substantial fortune that he accumulated with Tom Sawyer, Huck’s father finally sees a chance to become rich and consequently, re-enters his son’s life. Huck’s father goes on to say that the government wishes to take his son away just as he “begins to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest.” By using this particular language, Huck’s father implies that he only finds it unjust that Huck is being taken away because it will cause him to lose access to Huck’s money. Rather than behaving as a father, Huck’s father symbolizes a brutal slave owner. During that time in the South, African Americans were slaves and were seen as property. Huck’s father mirrors this behaviour in his interactions with Huck. Many slave owners fought in the legal systems to keep their slaves just because they viewed the slaves as a means to earn more money. Also, the way in which Huck is powerless and his father gets away with everything in front of the judge is characteristic of how slaves were powerless in the Southern legal systems. Being seen as property, slaves could be treated however their owners wished because the owners could persuade the judges to agree with anything they desired, just as Huck’s father fooled the newly appointed judge in town. In his illustration of Huck’s father, Twain shows us how the legal system allowed ruthless individuals like Huck’s father to thrive while leaving powerless characters such as slaves, and in this case, Huck, to suffer cruel treatment.

Page 39: “You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands. Well, here is your bad luck! We’ve raked in all this truck and eight dollars more.”

“I’ve always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the careless and foolish things a person can do.”

Immediately after Huck touches a snakeskin with his bare hand, Jim begins to worry, accepting the superstition that it is bad luck. Meanwhile, Huck thinks it’s nonsense and says, “You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands. Well, here is your bad luck! We’ve raked in all this truck and eight dollars besides.”(39). In Huck’s comments to Jim, he implies that Jim’s superstitions are nonsensical. Huck believes the superstition is nonsense because he has found $8. Later, as Jim looks at the new moon, Huck believes, “always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do.” While casually describing his own superstition, Huck highlights the irony of his previous thoughts on Jim’s snakeskin superstition. Though Huck believed Jim’s ideas about superstition were nonsense, Huck has no problems believing his own superstitions. By highlighting both Huck and Jim’s superstitions, Twain emphasizes how the individuals reject a common belief in favor of personal superstition. Neither Jim nor Huck are religious, and both reject Christianity, yet they devoutly adhere to their personal superstitions. Huck’s irony is further perpetuated by his dismissal of the widow’s beliefs. The widow is incredibly devout, with her superstitions stemming from faith. Ultimately, Twain highlights how individuals use their superstitions as a way to explain phenomena in their lives, instead of relying on reason and fact.

Page 54: “I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, then how would I like it.”

Soon after leaving the murderers to die, Huck begins to consider the morality of his actions. After floating a few hundred yards downriver, Huck “begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself yet, then how would I like it.”(54). Huck’s contemplation of the morality of leaving murderers to die shows his deep-rooted sense of morality and justice. Even though the men had left another man to die, Huck feels that it is “dreadful… even for murderers”(54), implying his compassion for all types of people. Furthermore, Huck’s compassion for all people diverges from the general opinion around him. Just before his run-in with the robbers, Huck spoke with Mrs. Watson. While Mrs. Watson showed compassion to Huck, whom she believed to be a runaway, she showed no compassion for Jim, who was a slave. Huck’s display of compassion for all people reveals his moral compass, which disregards race and background, instead focusing on the morality of his own actions.

Page 81: “He never done nothing to me.”

“Only it’s on account of the feud.”

Page 82:And by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud.”

As Huck speaks with Buck about why he was tempted to murder Harney Stephenson, he says, “Only it’s on account of the feud.” (81). In doing so, Buck reveals the stupidity of his feud with the Stephenson. While trying to justify his reasoning to want to murder, the best Buck can come up with is that there was a feud between the families. Though there is a feud, Buck cannot seem to come up with a specific reasoning for any of his thoughts. Furthermore, Buck says that the feud ends after enough people get involved and “By and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud.” (82). In Buck’s final statement, he highlights the foolishness of the feuds of individuals. The Stephenson and Grangerford families’ feud runs deep, yet no one seems to have a clear and justifiable reason for it. Yet, the two families believe the end to the feud will come only with the death of everyone involved. The feud between the two families is emblematic of the stupidity of feuds between individuals. Twain touches on the fact that individuals run away from their problems instead of resolving them. Though the two families could resolve the feud, instead they run away from the issue to such an extreme that they wish to kill each other.

Page 101: “Then he showed us another little job he’d printed and hadn’t charged for, because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway nigger, with a bundle on a stick, and a “$200 reward” under it.”

In his interactions with Huck and Jim, the so-called “king” acts as though he is a poor lost soul who is their friend. Yet, as time progresses, the King shows his true colors and reveals the fact that he and the Duke are serial conmen who will do anything to make a quick buck. While they are in town, the King prints out pamphlets, including a fake pamphlet of Jim. On the raft, the king shows it to Jim and Huck, and it “had a picture of a runaway nigger, with a bundle on a stick, and a “$200 reward” under it.” (101). Though the pamphlet, in a certain context, could be an innocent joke, in this context it implies both the cruelty and power that the King has over Jim. As he gives Jim the pamphlet, the king is further cementing his power over Jim. As a runaway slave, Jim is in a vulnerable and powerless position and must, therefore, live in constant fear. In giving the pamphlet to Jim, the king is showing that he can reveal his secret at any time. Alongside his display of power, the king also demonstrates his extreme cruelty. Though Jim and Huck had been helpful to him, the king treated them as he did everyone, with contempt. In his position of power, the king manipulated it to the maximum, revealing his lack of compassion for people and his extreme need to make money.

Page 114: “But we don’t want to be the laughing stock of this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long as we live. No. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town! Then we’ll all be in the same boat. Ain’t that sensible? (‘You bet it is! the judge is right!’ everybody sings out.)”

Following the first night of the show, the people who attended realized they had been conned by the men. Yet, instead of warning others not to go, those in attendance did the complete opposite and encouraged people to go see the show. One man reasoned, “We don’t want to be the laughing stock of this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long as we live. No. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town! Then we’ll all be in the same boat.” (114) In his brief speech, this one man unveils society’s fear of being perceived as fools. After being conned, those who attended are now afraid that their peers will perceive them as the fools who were dumb enough to go to the show. Instead, by encouraging others to attend, the man is further reinforcing the idea that “misery loves company.” Although the men feel foolish for being conned, they believe it will be less stigmatizing for them if all their peers have the same experience. In doing so, the men reveal their inherent pettiness underneath the personas that they present in public.

Page 140: “I felt awful bad to see it; of course anyone would.”

As Mary Jane is crying over the separation of the slave family, Huck desperately tries to comfort her. While Mary Jane is crying, Huck remarks “I felt awful bad to see it; of course anyone would.” (140) In his comments regarding Mary Jane, Huck reveals that he never truly shed all of his southern upbringing. As Mary Jane is crying, Huck feels terrible not because of the family that was being separated, but due to Mary Jane’s crying. In doing so, Huck reveals that while he often shows compassion to blacks, Huck can still tolerate the separation. Upon seeing black persecution his whole life, Huck becomes accustomed to these types of events. However, Huck’s demonstrated compassion to Jim and other blacks further complicates his situation. Huck is capable of compassion, as shown by stealing the money in an attempt to give it to the girls, yet he can idly stand by while the black family is being separated. Although he comes a long way from his initial upbringing, Huck has not fully shed it. In this situation, Huck shows the side of himself that felt guilty when Jim wished to steal back his family, as he felt he was wronging not Jim, but the people who owned Jim’s family. Huck’s struggles with feeling compassion for the black family highlight the complex fabric of southern life at the time. Even those who were sympathetic to African American slaves often couldn’t fully shed their previously established feelings. While individuals such as Mary Jane felt compassion for the separating family, they might not have felt the same for others in similar situations.

Page 161: “It was a close place. I took it up and held it in my hand. I was trembling because I’d got to decide, forever, between two things, and I knew it. I studied for a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then said to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell,’ and tore it up.”

Ultimately, as Huck sees Jim facing a future life of slavery, Huck stands at a crossroads as he must decide whether to alert Mrs. Watson or help Jim go free. In this situation, Huck understands the gravity of the situation and “was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed.” (161) Huck’s realization that his decision would be “forever” reveals his understanding of the gravity of the situation. Even though Huck understands that either way he will burn bridges, he comes to the decision that “I’ll go to hell” and tore it up. In tearing up the letter, Huck symbolizes his decision to break from his southern upbringing and the ideals that came with it. Whereas previously, Huck sided with whites against blacks, here he sides with Jim and decides to help him go free. In prior situations, Huck felt bad for the slave owners rather than the slaves themselves. Yet here, Huck shows that any sympathies and misgivings he had about helping Jim were gone. In saying “I’ll go to hell,” Huck implies that he would rather be with Jim than have the approval of whites and Mrs. Watson. In helping Jim, Huck knows he will lose the approval of those around him, and “go to hell” in the eyes of whites such as Mrs. Watson. Yet, in ignoring all this and helping Jim, Huck reveals that he would rather be morally correct and “go to hell” than do the “wrong thing” that society expected him to do.

Upon the reemergence of Tom Sawyer in his life, Huck suddenly reverts to his old habits. Though Tom agrees to free Jim, he feels the need to do it in his way. In doing so, Tom wishes to overcomplicate the plan in order to follow his idea of what a “cool” escape would be. After Tom begins to concoct all sorts of nonsense, such as Jim needing a rope ladder, Huck says “if it’s in the regulations, and he’s got to have it, all right.” (Twain 181) In giving in to Tom’s nonsense, Huck reveals that he is still the same submissive boy of the past. Previously, Tom created nonsensical ideas; for example, he formed a band of robbers based on his foolish notions of how robbers operated. Similarly, here and later on, Tom creates an image in his mind of a brave rescue of Jim, and Huck merely looks on and follows without protest. Prior to Tom arriving, Huck had acted upon his morals and new set of beliefs, such as his care for Jim, even though he was a black man. Yet, as soon as Tom arrives, all of this goes out the window, and Huck reverts to his old status of listening and believing in Tom’s ideas. Huck’s nearly immediate reversion to his old ways highlights the manner in which individuals influence each other. Though individuals may abide by certain moral rules, these often go out the window in the presence of peer pressure. In highlighting the dynamic between Huck and Tom, Twain reveals the extent to which peer pressure can control people.

“Why, I wanted the adventure of it; and I’d a waded neck-deep in blood to — goodness alive, Aunt Polly.”

Ultimately, Tom reveals himself to the family, following the arrival of Aunt Polly, as well as unloading the bombshell that Jim had already been set free by Mrs. Watson. When asked why he concocted a plan to set Jim free, Tom says, “I wanted the adventure of it; and I’d have waded neck-deep in blood to- goodness alive, Aunt Polly!” Through his reply, Tom reveals the utter immorality of his actions in “freeing” Jim. Tom’s admission that he did this all for an “adventure” implies some serious issues with his sense of morality. In concocting a plan to free Jim, Tom managed to hurt nearly everyone around him while coming out virtually unscathed. Initially, Tom made Huck uncomfortable by forcing him into the plan. Next, Tom scared Jim by making him deal with the plan and being involved with snakes and spiders which deeply frightened him. Lastly, Tom scared his Aunt Sally by making her think she had gone crazy, as well as frightening her to the point where she assembled a small militia to protect her from a nonexistent band of robbers. Yet after causing all this pain and suffering, Tom seems to feel absolutely no guilt. Though he was shot in the process, Tom relishes the fact that he got the thrill of doing something valiant. In his depiction of Tom’s immorality, Twain highlights the ways in which the world can be unjust. Though Tom had committed an extreme transgression, he is free to move on with his life with little to no repercussion. Meanwhile, Jim, the only person who acted morally in the story, is left to fend for himself as a black man in the South. While Tom would be free to live his life as he pleased, Jim could not as he was a black man in the South.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Entries. (2019, Aug 26). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn-entries/