Analyzing Coming Of Age In Huckleberry Finn English Literature Essay
Expecto Patronum, Stupify, Expelliarmus; the favorite spells of the half-blood Harry Potter. A boy who went from living in a broom closet, not knowing magic existed in the world, to becoming the “Chosen One”, having the daunting task of killing Lord Voldemort. In order to prepare for the task he had to accept the prospect of death, “neither can live while the other survives”, and make the transition into manhood. This transition, known as “coming of age”, can only be made by those who grow from their personal experiences and are able to accept who they are as person. The book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, is described as one of the top ten American “coming of age” novels to date. It is based on many past adventures of the Mark Twain himself; telling the journey of an immature boy named Huck, and his constant rebellion against those who constantly order him around. He and a black slave named Jim, escape and journey down the Mississippi River, in search of freedom from oppression and slavery; their travels help to show Huck the true nature of the world. By experiencing the corrupt and moral actions within society, Huck Finn is able to comprehend his inner being and evolve, leaving behind his own adolescent behavior. Huck’s “coming of age” occurred due to the effects of his constant trickery, the introduction of caring individuals, and the witnessing of the evils of humanity upon himself and others.
Huck has been deprived of love and support all through his childhood, and this continued until he met certain individuals whose caring helped him to grow. Pap, Huck’s drunk and lowlife father, who didn’t care whether Huck lived or died, only wanting the fortune that could be his. This was one of Huck’s role models, the person that taught him how to cheat and lie, yet did not show him any love or teach him how to care. After being taken by his pap and being held against his own will, Huck decided to leave and fake his own death. He joins Jim and together they form a very close bond. When they are reunited after their raft was crushed, both companions are relieved. Jim expresses his happiness, “Jim grabbed me and hugged me, he was so glad to see me” (Twain 88). This showing of affection is unusual to Huck, who has never experienced much love in his life. But, in addition to this love, lessons have been taught by Jim. He is acting as a fatherly figure, showing him proper behavior Huck never learned from his father. Also, by being a fatherly figure toward Huck and forming a close connection, he is learning how to care about another individual. Soon to follow, Huck meets another person that he cares about, Mary Jane Wilks. They met during a con The King, The Duke, and with resentment Huck, were performing in order to gain the money of a dead man. He described her by saying, “Mary Jane was red-headed, but that don’t make no difference, she was most awful beautiful, and her face and her eyes was all lit up like glory” (Twain 123). These descriptions of a girl, show that Huck had interest in her, he liked her. This new found love reveals that unlike any child, he is beginning to show an interest in the opposite sex. Huck later shows resentment for his actions, “It made my eyes water a little to remember her crying there all by herself in the night, and them devils laying there right under her own roof, shaming her and robbing her; and when I folded it up and give it to her, I see the water come into her eyes too and she shook me by my hand” (Twain 144). His affection towards Mary Jane makes Huck feel worse about the Duke and the King’s con. He does not wish to hurt the woman that he likes by stealing their money, and giving her and her sisters false hope of traveling to Europe. This guilt that he has very rarely been susceptible to, expresses a further gap from his childish behavior of ignoring guilt. Huck then chooses the responsible route, revealing the intentions of their stay and the con that they were performing. One other influential woman in Huck’s life was Tom’s Aunt Sally. He spends much time in her household, and grows to love and care about her. When Tom is missing, Huck insists on going to find him, but Aunt Sally says other wise. She tells Huck, “‘ The door ain’t going to be locked, Tom; and there’s the window and the rod; but you’ll be good, won’t you? And you won’t go? For my sake’”, Huck’s reactions towards this is surprising, “Laws knows I wanted to go, bad enough, to see about Tom, and was all intending to go; but after that, I wouldn’t a went, not for kingdoms” (Twain 213). Her plea to Huck shows one of the biggest changes in his personality. For the first time in his life, he is actually listening to an adult. This shows that Aunt Sally has grown to understand Huck; she knows that he has the intention to escape and find Tom, but truly believes that he has grown and will not wish to break her heart by leaving. Aunt Sally is correct, Huck’s new found feelings toward others prevents him from hurting those that he truly cares for, Aunt Sally and Mary Jane.
The experiences in the real world change everyone’s views, the evils in particular, reveal a person true personality. Within the house of Miss Watson, Huck lived a sheltered life, never experiencing a drunken rampage or the death of an individual. He joked with his friends saying “I offered Miss Watson- they could kill her” (Twain 6). He shows his naiveness, not knowing how serious death is. He does not realize the true meaning of it until his friend is killed. Buck, a boy similar to Huck in nature, forms a close bond with Huck. Together they have adventures, similar to the ones Huck has with Tom. But the connection is terminated with the death of Buck, due to an absurd family feud. Huck is hurt from the death, “I covered up their faces, and got away quick as I could. I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me” (Twain 87). This causes pain toward Huck; he has lost a person that he truly cared about. This loss, although tragic, opens Huck’s eyes to the reality of death. After this, he no longer jokes about killing anyone because he understands, like an adult, how serious death is; it’s something that should not be joked about. Huck’s father is the one who taught all the wrong ideals to Huck. He passes along only one lesson that proved beneficial towards Huck, and it was taught unbeknownst to pap. This lesson was taught when pap was in a drunken stupor. During this period Pap, “Chased me round and round the place, with a clasp-knife, calling me the Angel of Death and saying he would kill me and then I couldn’t come for him no more”, Huck then gets pap’s gun, “I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to stir” (Twain 22). Fear is known to change people, it makes them do things that they would never do otherwise. For Huck, fear makes him point a gun at his father. It is this fear that shows that he is willing to stop being pushed around and threatened by a bully, like a child, and that he can stand up to whoever is threatening him. This life altering moment, also reveals to Huck the dangers of alcohol and how easily I can change a person.
Huck’s journey in entirety, provided the change that he needed to “come of age”. The last quote proves that he has learned what he needs. Huck says, “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (Twain 220). He proves that he is comfortable with who he is as a person. Huck understands that being "sivilized" is not ideal for him; his home is on the river and in the woods, away from the rules of others. The river, has cleansed Huck, it brought forth the death of his childish behavior and the rebirth of a man who knew his purpose in the world.
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