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How Outside Influences Force Essay, Research Paper

How Outside Influences force Huckleberry Finn and Dave to Mature

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Man Who was Almost a Man are both bildungsromans. A bildungsroman is a story whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character. In Huck Finn the main character, Huck, is placed in many situations that force him to develop his personal skills. These situations also teach Huck to listen to himself and make the correct decisions in adult situations even though they do not always fit within the constraints of society. Likewise, in The Man Who was Almost a Man the main character, Dave a young seventeen year old, finds himself in situations that force him to make mature decisions. One difference between Huck and Dave is that Dave s mother forces these situations on him indirectly. Another difference between Huck and Dave is that we get to see the development of Huck and do not get to see the development of Dave into a mature young man. In the two stories The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Man Who was Almost a Man the main characters are greatly influenced by other characters in each of the stories.

Huckleberry Finn s changes come about progressively, sometimes without notice. As it is seen in Huck Finn, Huck undergoes many changes. Each of these changes is crucial to Huck s survival and maturation. The characters known as pap, Jim, and the

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Widow Douglas are ultimately the greatest causes of Huck s transition from an adolescent to a more mature adult. Huck s father, who in this novel is simply referred to as pap, plays a crucial role in changing Huck. Pap beats Huck, drinks too much, and constantly ridicules Huck for attempting to educate himself. He says things like, First you know you ll get religion, too (Twain 43). It is negative responses like this that give Huck a new outlook and new respect for freedom furthering his transition from adolescence to maturity. Pap s actions also cause Huck to change in the aspect of his leaving and abandoning all he knows to run away with a slave.

Another character who changes Huck s life is Jim, a runaway slave who he encounters in his escape for a better life. When they first meet, Huck considers himself a low down Ablitionist depised for keeping mum (Twain 87). Huck says this talking about how he has no plans to return Jim, the runaway slave, to his owner. As the voyage progresses however, the bond between these two unlikely heroes becomes much stronger to the point of Jim s extreme worry when Huck appears to be missing. The whole time that these two are together shows that Huck s new experiences enabled him to overcome all that he had learned in his past and to bring down extreme racial barriers.

An additional character that drastically modifies Huck s life is the Widow Douglas. She took it upon herself to try to civilize Huck by teaching him manners and how to read and write. This yearning to learn while at first was not very evident, ultimately prevailed when Huck was with his father. While in seclusion, Huck thrived to

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learn and tried to read anything he could get his hands on. His actions here show that the Widow Douglas made a prolonged change in Huck, as regarding his love for learning.

Huck underwent many extreme psychological changes as a result of his father pap, Jim, and the Widow Douglas. While all under different conditions, each shows that Huck Finn had a great ability to learn from and adapt to anything thrown his way. The ability to change requires great self-sacrifice and self-criticism, two things that Dave, in The Man who was Almost a Man, knows very little about.

In the story The Man who was Almost a Man, the main character Dave, is an immature seventeen year old who wants a gun. He wants the gun because he thinks that it will make him a man. By his definition a man is someone with power, in other words Dave would like to grow up and become an adult quickly, but he is not allowed the opportunity. The main character who influences Dave throughout the story is his mother. Dave s mother talks down to him and treats him like a child, when he is trying to develop into a mature young man. Dave s mother says, Yuh ain nothing but a boy yut! (Wright 1953) when her son asks if he can own a gun, proving that she looks down on this seventeen-year-old boy and keeps him from growing up mentally. His mother tells him in the story to go wash his hands before he eats. If Dave was a man, then his mother would never have had to say that. This example helps to illustrate that Dave has never been allowed to make his own decisions. Not being allowed to make his own decisions keeps Dave an immature boy and forces him to find other means to becoming a man. This leads back to why Dave wants the gun. If Dave s mother saw his point of view on having a gun then she might want to look at why he wants it. At this time, his mother and father should

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tell him that a gun does not make a man, and then he would probably not have wanted the gun.

In Dave s actions he is like a young boy. He acts like a young boy because his mother has shielded him from making any kinds of decisions that would allow him to grow as a person. Another example of this is seen with the way the money that Dave earns is handled. Dave is not even given a chance to take responsibility for saving the money. His mother went to Mr. Hawkins, the man Dave works for, and asked that all the money that her son makes be given to her and not to him. This keeps Dave shielded from responsibility and forces immaturity on him. Dave s mother obviously does not trust him, but that should not keep Dave from being allowed to earn trust and from taking responsibility. She should have given Dave a portion of the money to save and see how he performs with just a small amount of responsibility. Her actions force her son to make decisions on his own that he is not prepared to make. Throughout the story Dave proves that he is not a man, and that he does not know what a man is, this is due to his mother s actions.

While Huck and Dave are two very different characters, they are both influenced by outside sources. In Huck s case the influence is good in that it helps him to grow and mature as a person. His father pap gave him an appreciation for freedom, although not in the best of ways, Jim helped Huck to break down racial barriers, and the Widow Douglas instilled a love for learning in him. Dave s influences on the other hand were not so helpful. His mother, who had the most hands on influence over him, would not allow him to grow-up. She treated him like a child and he in turn acted like one. The outside

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influences on a person are all important even if they teach them a lesson the hard way. They should be listened to, but one can only hope that they have the smarts to pick out the good voices to follow and learn from the bad ones.


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