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Study Questions On Huck Finn Essay, Research Paper

1.

a) The theme of the individual verse society is developed through Huck s conflict over whether or not to obey the morality of society or to listen to his own conscience. This conflict is mainly developed through Huck and his internal conflict dealing with his treatment of Jim. The values he has learned from society tell him that it is wrong to help Jim flee, but his individual conscience tells him that the right thing to do is help Jim. Mark Twain is sending the message that society corrupts natural morality, and in order to be free of that you must transcend society and live as an individual.

b) Moral growth, especially Huck s, is an important part of the novel. In contrast to Jim s maturity, Huck can seem thoughtless and childish at times. But as the novel progresses, Huck replaces selfish ambitions and begins to commit acts solely for the good of other. An example of this would be Huck sending for help for the thieves on the ferry boat.

c) The necessity of individual responsibility is shown through Huck s many trials. He meets many people whom he cannot trust and learns to rely on himself and make decisions for himself, rather than based on the opinions of others.

d) The contrast between the Haves and Have nots is shown through Huck and Jim in contrast to the other townspeople, specifically Tom and Miss Watson. The Haves wear the right clothes and do things the socially excepted way, but Twain, ironic as ever, seems to portray Huck and Jim as Haves in their own right. Both are considered the morally mature and kind characters in the story.

e) Throughout the novel, Huck is involved with many characters and becomes a part of many families, but he never finds a family that would truly suit him. He finally considers Jim to be his family, as both a brother and a father figure.

2.

a) Huck and Jim are both searching for freedom. Huck runs from the social constraints he feels after living with the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson. Jim is running from the cultural restraint of slavery.

b) Twain sends the message that society is the cause of much evil and cruelty, specifically slavery and prejudice and that the individual is the source of kindness, demonstrated with huck s choice not to report Jim.

c) Respectability and compliance are represented by society. Huck and Jim represent both rebellion and freedom. Huck and Jim rebel from society not so much for the sake of rebellion, but rather to achieve freedom from the constraints that have been put on him.

d) Appearance and pretense vs. reality and truth is best displayed through the character Jim. Jim is viewed by society as simply a nigger, yet really he is revealed to be truly caring. The character who is viewed as hardly human, is in reality very human and loving.

e) Huck has learned a false sense of what is right based on the values of society. He believes that he is doing wrong by aiding in Jim s escape, while the reader see this as a benevolent action. Society has taught him that slavery and prejudice are acceptable, but his conscious tells him otherwise, leaving Huck confused.

f) Through the novel, Twain tries to convey that individual morality is superior to social morality. Social morality is subject to the prejudices of society, often making it unreliable. However individual morality is based on your innate sense of good and bad.

3. Both Huck and Jim are running from society. Huck seeks freedom from the hypocrisy of society, preferring his previous way of being natural. Jim literally is running from slavery. He seeks his freedom and to be with his family.

4. Twain vividly portrays the horrors and degradations of slavery in Chapter 27 when one of the slave families belonging to the Wilks is separated. This scene is one where Twain perhaps makes his strongest reprehension of slavery. Slavery affects the slaves personally, it makes them feel as if they are inferior and causes great emotional pain. Slavery also makes society feel that it is right to treat blacks as inferiors, causing a false guilt in Huck when he does not.

5. Tom Sawyer is characterized as the bad good boy because he does what is expected of him by society often treating Jim as an inferior, however the reader can see that his morality has been warped under the influence of society and we see some of his actions as immature and mean. Huck is characterized as the good bad boy because he goes against the morality of society to act on what he believes is right.

6. When Huck is taken in by the Widow Douglas, she and Miss Watson attempt to sivilize him. Incorporated in this sivilization is wearing proper clothes, going to school, and saying prayers, namely grace. Although, sivilization has its benefits, it could also expose him to the prejudices and warped morality of society.

7.

a) Cultural and personal hypocrisy are targeted with Twain s portrait of slavery. Miss Watson and the other townspeople view themselves as Christians and good examples for Huck to follow, yet they see no problem with owning another human being and often treat the blacks as inferior.

b) Sentimental romanticism is satirized through the character Tom Sawyer. Tom often creates mischief while trying to live out his fantasies of adventure making him appear selfish and immature.

c) False aristocracy is displayed with the Duke and the King, as well as with the Grangerfords and Shepardsons. The Duke and King pretend to be nobility, when they are, in reality, con artists. The Grangerfords and Shepardsons also represent a false aristocracy. Although they are rich, successful, and have beautiful families, the consume themselves with hate for eachother.

8. Mark Twain uses the Grangerford-Sheperdson episode to demonstrate the irony of Southern society. From the description of the Grangerford family and their house, the appear to be ideal. The detailed account of the feud, however, is used to contradict the idealistic view of the Grangerfords. They appear to have everything, yet are consumed with hate. The senselessness of the feud is revealed when Huck finds out that no one can remember even what started the feud, nor think of reason to continue it, yet they continue to kill each other.


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