A child, when first born into this world, is total

ly objective andoblivious to all. A clean blank slab of a blackboard portrays his/her
brain thus far. As time goes on, input is inscribed upon this
“blackboard”. From there conclusions are drawn, inferences are made, and
right and wrong are being defined. Society has everything to do with the
course of this. The main character of Mark Twain’s Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, Huck, undergoes a total moral transformation upon having
to make life defining decisions throughout his journey for a new life; from
a simple boy living amongst society to a mature human who can think for
himself about the rights and wrongs of humanity. Twain is trying to show
the audience that society has the majority of influence upon the
individual, and will cause the person to conform to the norms of that
society. Huck Finn is a great example of a disciple of society who learns
to think individually and back to the fundamentals of mankind.

Huck emerges into the novel with an inferiority complex caused by
living a double standard life: with a drunken and abusive father and with
two old ladies who would like to raise him properly. It is here that Huck
is in absence of any direction. It is at this point where Huck is first
seen without any concept of morality. Preceding the start of the novel,
Miss Watson and the widow have been granted custody of Huck, an uncivilized
boy who possesses no morals. “They talked it over, and they was going to
rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or something to
kill, or else it wouldn’t be fair and square for the others. Well, nobody
could think of anything to do- everybody was stumped, and set still. I was
most ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered
them Miss Watson-they could kill her” (17-18). At this moment, Huck is at
the peak of his immorality. A person with morals would not willingly
sacrifice the life of someone else just in order to be part of a gang.

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Huck’s confusion with society, along with his idolism of Tom Sawyer, caused
him to make such a statement. He wants to escape from his abusive father
and overly-strict guardians, thus he turns to the immorality and childish
way to “get away from it all”. Twain here can easily prove his view upon
society in 1 easy step. He shows the proper/former side of society with
Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. Here he presents the case with the views of
society: racist, biased, and ethnocentric. In many instances Twain
sarcastically will ridicule society for its immoral beliefs by exaggerating
them in the book. The word “nigger” may seem like the proper connotation
in accordance to the dialect of the time, but the way they treated
“niggers” and their attitudes toward them should not have been proper in
any case. The insecure and perplexed Huck was willing to give up a human
life in order to pursue his childish dreams and to escape the pressure
induced by society. Twain points out how society could have hurt a boy
with that example and also talks about one of many of society’s problems.

Huck begins his journey of moral progression after he escapes and
decides to befriend Jim, the runaway slave. He from here learns about the
evils and skewed views of society; little by little, he learns to confront
and decide for himself upon these situations.Huck encounters his first
major dilemma when he comes across the wrecked steamboat and three
criminals. When Jim and Huck take the skiff for themselves, leaving the
three robbers stranded, Huck realizes that he has left them to die. “Now
was the first time that I begun to worry about the men- I reckon I hadn’t
time to before. 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, and then how would I like it?”(76). This
is the first time that Huck questions the effects of what he has done on
other people. After he realizes that he could now be considered a murderer,
he does something for the better by getting a captain to go investigate the
wreck in order to save the men’s lives. Even though the men he would be
saving are murderers and robbers, he can not justify being responsible for
their death, and makes it a point to correct what he has done wrong. This
is the first major step in Huck’s moral progression. At that point, he
establishes a set of standards that considers leaving the men to die as
immoral. Twain’s point here is that no matter what society looks down upon
or shuns on, the ultimate and fundamental basis is that we are all human,
and an act that is merciless should never be committed. He demonstrates
this with the robbers, and later again profoundly in the
Shepherdson/Grangerford dispute. In Buck Grangerford’s rambling answers we
hear Mark Twain’s view of a southern feuding family, and after Buck
finishes his answer, we watch Huck’s reaction to the true nature of the
Grangerfords. Buck details Twain’s opinion that a feud is not started or
continued by thought. The reasons for the feud have been forgotten, and the
Grangerfords do not hate, but in fact respect, their sworn enemies. They
live their lives by tradition, and the fact that the feud is a tradition
justifies its needless, pointless violence. From the dignified Colonel with
“a few buck-shot in him”(121) to Buck, who is eager for the glory to be
gained from shooting a Shepherdson in the back, the Grangerfords
unquestioningly believe in de-valuing human life because it is a civilized
tradition. Huck begins to decide for himself now, that he is on the river
and can think more freely without the confinements of society. Twain
gradually introduces us into the concepts of a bad society and Huck’s moral

Throughout the book there is the recurring motif of Friend v. Society:
a main moral decision that Huck is forced to make a few times in his
journey, of whether to follow the guidelines set before him or his heart
which tells him what logic should. This is the first time he makes a
decision all on his own based on his own morality. Jim’s capture and
consequences represent Huck’s ultimate realization and rejection of
society. To encapsulate Huck’s total moral progression through his decision
to help Jim, Huck states, “All right then, I’ll go to hell!” (207). The
logical consequences of Huck’s action, rather than the lessons society has
taught him, drive Huck. He decides that going to “hell,” if it means
following his gut and not society’s hypocritical and cruel principles, is a
better option than going to everyone else’s heaven. This moment of decision
represents Huck’s true break with the world around him. At this point, Huck
decides to help Jim escape slavery once and for all. By now his mind is
truly made up, the statement “You can’t pray a lie” (207) being the
justification. Twain here utilizes the climax of the moment to conclude
his most important points about society- in which it is cruel to itself,
biased, and selfish. By using Huck as the breakthrough of the mold, Twain
is able to get his point across to his readers, that society and what it
represents is all wrong, because of the ethnocentric display on life by it.

Huck has made up his mind once and for all, after thoroughly surveying
both sides of an ideal-bound society and a free-going life. Twain
contrasts the two and glorifies the instinct-based life while degrading the
society-bound lifestyle.

Huck’s moral progression can be traced throughout the book beginning
from his total lack of morals to being able to make the right decisions on
his own. It is only with the help of Jim as a moral guide that Huck is able
to undergo this moral transformation to use his own judgment and truly
progress.The situation that Huck is encountered with about choosing
friend over society is the main dilemma that pushes Huck to establish his
own standards of morality, rather than accepting those that society has set
forth. Jim acts as the centerpiece where Huck decides whether he should
conform to society about the runaway slave or to use his head and follow
what he believes are the basic rights of being humane. The metamorphosis
Huck went through not only told a story, but, in Twain’s view, told the
life story of his society and those problems. Problems that Huck
confronted. Today, his acts and Mr. Twain’s ingenious are considered to
have bettered the society. There you go, Mr. Twain, you got what you
wanted. Society has been bettered thanks to you.


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