Huckleberry Finn: Analysis
Conflicts: Man vs. Man
-The man vs. man conflict is brought up many times throughout this story. The first that is posed is the conflict between Huckleberry and Pap. Pap is Huckleberry’s abusive biological father, and an alcoholic to boot. He first comes in and tries to steal his son’s fortune, just so he can get drunk. Huckleberry is kidnapped by his father for a short time, and during this is beaten many times. Huckleberry eventually escapes as he saws his way out of a shed with an old saw he finds. He then kills a pig to fake his own death and smears blood all over the shed so the story is more believable.
Man vs. Nature
-The conflict between man and nature in this book are shown many times, most occurring on the Mississippi River, as Huckleberry and Jim escape many towns. The first time it appears is when Jim predicts a storm coming. Two days later it does, and floods ensue. Jim and Huckleberry have to wait out for the next few days until the river recedes. Later on, Huckleberry loses Jim in a massive fog, but they are later reunited. Huckleberry makes up a false story explaining how he got lost, but Jim doesn’t buy it.
Man vs. Himself
-The man vs. himself conflict is another conflict that is brought out through the story, as Huckleberry constantly challenges his morals with the way he is brought up, as a racist southern boy, and his own personal beliefs. The main point of this conflict is mostly based on the way society treats Jim. Many times in the story, Huckleberry treats Jim poorly, merely because of his skin color, as he does such things as place a rattlesnake skin near Jim as he is sleeping, which ends in Jim with a snake bite. Also, since Jim is a slave, and his color, many references to the word “nigger” are plagued throughout the story, as he is being called one, and so are the rest of the black population. But that’s where Huckleberry’s conflict arises. He sees Jim as a nice, kind hearted man (which he is) and wishes to set him free. But at the same time, he has his own prejudices as in chapter twenty-three, Huck has a revelation. Watching Jim mourn because of his far away family, Huck concludes that blacks must love their families as much as whites love theirs. At fist glance, this is seen by many to be very racist, but in actuality is good, because Huck starts to question society’s ways, as I will further that idea next.
Man vs. Society
-The society that is depicted in this novel is of a racist, closed minded, ignorant south in which slavery is still prominent, and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Through society, Huck believes that whites are the superior race, and that blacks should be treated like they are, as slaves. Blacks are constantly being called “nigger” throughout this story, as Jim is called it and so is the general population of blacks. When Huck frees Jim, he sees that as wrong, because society’s values have taught him that freeing slaves is a punishable offense, so in his naive mind, he thinks that he has done wrong. At the same time, his own beliefs, largely formed by his experiences with Jim, tell him that it is best for Jim to be free. He is constantly wondering if he is right, and that freeing Jim was actually a good thing, or if society is right, and Huck should turn Jim in. Finally, he decides to not care about “morality,” and simply be “bad;” his own sense of right and wrong is stronger.
Symbolism: The Mississippi River
-The Mississippi River, in “Huckleberry Finn” is served as a getaway from most of their problems. When Huck firsts runs away, he heads straight for the Mississippi and leaves by small boat. Huck and Jim have many experiences on the river, including their meeting with “the Duke” and Dauphin, two con artists who go to town with Huck and Jim trying to swindle people out of their money. When Huck hides some of the money they have stolen (approximately $6,000 in gold) and they find out about this, Hick runs to hide and is caught but luckily Duke tells Dauphin not to kill Huck. Huck then runs again to the Mississippi to hide from them. Basically, in my view, the Mississippi is used as a symbol of freedom or possibly a getaway. It is referred to many many times in the story as such things as Hucks dead father washing ashore its banks happen throughout the story. It is always a used as a getaway, since at that time it was the easiest mode of transportation, especially for a young boy and a runaway slave.
-One of the main satirizations of this book is the satire made by the general southern public, as they are mostly portrayed as ignorant, bigoted individuals. In their society, whites are seen as the superior race, and blacks are owned as property, and are slaves to common folk. The word “Nigger” is used multiple times in the story, as to stress their ignorance. It is illegal for blacks to get a proper education, so in no way could they ever rise up, and seemingly be forever oppressed. This is shown as Jim is constantly himself being called a nigger, and Huck is no exception, yet his views seem to change about other races in this story.
-Ignorance is also highly satirized, in other cases as with the feud between the Grangerfords and the Sheppardsons, but no one can remember the cause of the feud or see any real reason to continue it. When Sophia runs off with a Shepardson, the feud reignites, and Buck and another boy are shot. The satire comes into lay with this because of the obvious stupidity brought in question. But the satirzation lies in the church, where the preacher has sermons preaching “brotherly love”.