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Development Of Huck Finn Essay, Research Paper
Character is developed by experience. When a person is young, they are impressionable, and will often change their beliefs and values depending on the situation. I feel that this is because children have such a small amount of personal experience and knowledge. These two possessions cannot be taught and must be acquired first-hand. Knowledge allows people to make their own decisions and have some idea of what the outcome will be. Personal experience is, in not to abstract a way, the same thing. Experience, by definition, is the Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill. (American Herit. experience ).
Experience and knowledge define a person as an individual. Every sentient being draws from their experiences in the formation of their values and in their responses. Every person met, every conversation had, every day lived, shapes us. And just as how a small sum of money seems to be a fortune, someone without much experience will learn astounding amounts from every simple thing.
Huckleberry Finn, when the story opens, has been stuck in the same town for most of his life. Up until the early to mid 1900 s, the average person never traveled more than 50 miles from their home. Huck s entire world consisted of little more than the town in which he lived and the surrounding wilderness. Through the efforts of his guardians, Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, Huckleberry receives a basic education and is taught the stories of the bible. Tom Sawyer also helps to broaden Huck s horizons a little with his stories of adventure. Despite the obvious lack of reality in the adventures Tom has read, when attempting to act them out with Huck, he opens their minds to thought about the rest of the world.
Huckleberry Finn struck out on his own because he was restless. He was not satisfied with his options; either stay around with the widow and be sivilized , or stay with his father and be beaten. To become sivilized would require schooling, Huck would have to learn proper etiquette, the three R s , study the bible, and go to church. Early in the story, Huck declares his distaste for religion when he discovers that Moses was dead, so then I didn t care no more about him; because I don t take no stock in dead people. (pg. 4). Also, when he was staying with the widow, Huck often complained of being lonely.
When Huck was taken by his father to the log cabin, in some ways he was happier. The absence of forced study, tablecloths, starched clothes, and manners comforted the country boy. He enjoyed the hunting and fishing, Huck enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors. Despite the fact that his drunken father probably didn t make for very good conversation, and the fact that Huck was locked in the cabin alone for sometimes days at a time, there is less mention of him feeling lonely. But the thing that finally drove Huck off was the murder attempt by his hallucinating father.
By setting out on his own, Huck has made a large decision that he knows will determine the outcome of rest of his life. To him going back to the widow is not an option because he was so miserable, and going back to his father is also not an option because he fears the beating he will receive. Feeling as if he will not miss the town or its inhabitants and thinking that his father will soon have his riches, Huck tells himself he has nothing to loose and sets out.
Strangely, despite the fact that they were living under the same roof, Huckleberry and Jim don t seem as if they were all that close to each other prior to starting on their journey. Huck s attitude towards Jim is not very surprising when you consider the time period and the way he was raised. To young Finn, Jim is simply a nigger and no more. In Huck s narrative, he belittles Jim and it can be inferred that he sees Jim as his subordinate. To Huck, Jim s ignorance in certain matters is simply accounted for be his color. Huck says I see it warn t no use wasting words – you can t learn a nigger to argue. (pg. 68), with this he implies that black people were not intelligent enough to argue their points.
Through out the novel, as the relationship between Huck and Jim develops, the way Huck feels about Jim changes. Although it is not particularly shown in Huck s speech, his actions show a deep bond between the two. In chapter 16, even after Huck resolves to notify someone that Jim is a runaway slave, he still protects him. Finn goes even further to share the money he takes in with Jim. And by chapter 31, Huck is deeply hurt by the loss of Jim and resolves to rescue Jim even if it entails eternal damnation.
Also evolving through out the plot is Huckleberry s kindness toward others. Whereas in the beginning of the novel, Huck had no problem with stealing and playing tricks on Jim. Even by chapter 16, Huck is hatching a plan to get the robbers aboard the steamboat caught. In chapter 26, disgusted by the complete lack of respect on the behalf of the Duke and the Dauphin, Huck resolves to reveal his companions deceit in order to save the true heirs from poverty. The Huck Finn we knew in the beginning of the book most likely would have demanded a share of the profit. And here the same character is, trying to help the Wilks daughters for no foreseeable gain.
Huckleberry, when he was living back in the town, seemed to constantly be on the lookout for a way to make money. Whether it be by planning to rob travelers with Tom Sawyer, or selling the timber rafts when they came down, the dream of increased wealth danced in his head. Even when Huck finds the canoe, his first thought is of money the old man will be glad when he sees this – she s worth ten dollars (pg. 27). But as the story progresses, and the drifting duo retreat from society, Huck begins to think less and less of money, and seems to begin to value a clear conscience. This is definitively shown in his aiding the Wilks sisters. Where Huck felt such compassion towards them that he, to some level, risked his life to aid them.
Through Jim, Huckleberry began to learn the value of friendships and life itself. Jim loved his family to great ends, he planned to buy his own freedom and eventually that of his wife and children so they could be together once again. Huck, it seems, never truly had a family, his father was always drunk and the widow was too restrained for him to relate too. In all his relationships with care-givers, the care given was unwanted. But aboard the raft, Jim shared his thoughts and wisdom openly, and in a way, the two drifting runaways had formed a family.
Huck became more considerate as time went on. Learning from his errors, Huck resolved never to play tricks on Jim after he noticed the pain caused by his deception. Huck takes a large step when he says It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger – but I done it, and I warn t ever sorry for it afterwards (pg. 74). In this moment, Huck learned that he had the power to hurt others and realized something that some people forget, that it s not right to tool with the emotions of those that care for you.
Before this journey, I doubt that anyone had seriously depended on Huckleberry. Jim, without another soul in the world to trust, turned to Huck. There were many situations where it was only by Huck s quick thinking and courage that Jim retained his freedom. Such as when Huck claimed that his family was sick with small pox on the boat (pg. 78), or when Huck attempts to rescue Jim from his captors in the last few chapters. However, the dependency was not only one way. Huck grew to love Jim and depended on him for support, and comfort.
Mark Twain wrote: A book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat. (www.twainquotes.com).
All through the novel, Finn is constantly battling with his conscience over what is the right choice. He was troubled by his conscience when one side of him said to turn Jim in because it was the law, while the other side kept him bound to his promise and his friend. He was troubled when he had to decide whether to inform Mary Jane of his companions deception, or simply arrange for her to get the money back. Every conflict ended with the true and honest decision being made. Huck had sprouted an iron will and grown a just mind, these two would lead him through the novel and force him to do what s right.
By the end of their journey, Huck had learned many lessons that some people never learn. The experience alone of being adrift along the Mississippi river must have been amazing, but the adventures add to the equation exponentially. Huckleberry Finn was no doubt a changed man after his pilgrimage. The trials that Huck had passed along the way had already formed a different being from the one we knew in the beginning.
Huck had learned the importance of honesty and how it takes precedence over greed. He had learned what it feels like to be cared about and to care about someone else. He had discovered the emptiness of money and the value of friendship. But most importantly, Huck knew exactly how to spot a con-artist.
Still restless, Huck entertains the notion of heading west to continue his adventures. Partially driven on by the same force that he once ran away from, Tom s aunt sally is trying to sivilize him. Huck concludes that he has nothing more to say, but he does announce that he has no more plans for writing any more books. And Finn goes so far as to say that if he knew how much trouble it was going to cause him, he wouldn t have written it in the first place. The story ends with Huck upholding morals far beyond his years and upholding values unknown to his time. One must keep in mind, Huck is only about 13.
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