In his episodic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain fabricates a journey as the platform for the narrator's symbolic rite of passage. The protagonist, Huckleberry Finn, discovers the true colors of his individuality, as he voyages through his many adventures and gains priceless experiences. While he matures and advances, Huck discards his disposition as an ignorant and juvenile adolescent craving for joy and peril and becomes a man, being able to firmly identify and establish his morals and ethics. During this intricate process, he develops a comradeship with a Jim, a runaway slave, ultimately learning the true horrors of the flawed society, in which he lives in. As a role in Huck's learning process, Mark Twain realistically utilizes the social perception of whites during the time period to assist Huck in discovering the blemishes of slavery, rejecting many critics' assumption that he is a racist.
Huck, a thirteen-year-old son of a drunkard, is recurrently strained to survive on his own wits where sometimes it contradicts society's standards and laws. As he seems to trek down the Mississippi River, he also journeys down his inner mentality, as Huck encounters challenges between his social conscience and individual conscience. Huck always seems to look up to the educated, the high and mid-class. He appeared to make himself believe that his judgment was inferior or abased to theirs because he was illiterate, and not truly part of society - or a civilized human being. He blindly follows Tom Sawyer, due to the fact that he was educated and brought up in a refined urbane setting.
As the novel opens, Huck is forced to be integrated in society and civilization. Though he struggles, he persuades himself to sublime in. In the beginning, Huck is perplexed by the fatuous purpose of religion. As Widow Douglas and Miss. Watson try very hard to reform Huck to become "sivilize", he doesn't see the purpose of heaven and hell. It's these first signs of society (religion) that plays an impact on Huck, where he makes a connection that his actions will determine his destination after death. Huck also can be portrayed as an innate philosopher, where he is very skeptical of the societal dogmas (religion) and in fact perceives these ideas in his own ways, as he tries to reform. This is seen with Huck's idea that hell might actually be a better place than the Widow Douglas's heaven. Thus this issue only engenders Huck's moral development.
When Huck encounters Jim on Jackson's island, and attends his story of a runaway slave, Huck sees Jim as a human being rather than a slave. Huck feels empathy and remorse, as he hears Jim's sad tale of his family being ripped apart. Huck, who just wasn't able to properly fully mold with society, and Jim, a run-away slave, both were alienated from society in fundamental ways. Both now in some form freed from the insincerity and injustice of society, but knew this would not last long. When Huck realizes that his fate was wrapped around Jim's, he question's the morality of helping a run-away slave, this in which was against law, and breaking a law would lead him to hell. More subtly, Twain criticize the American South for its phony romanticism and hypocritical Christianity. Huck decries the idea that the Christianity of the South is a living contradiction. Huck does not comprehend the fact how society accepts slavery yet ignores the Biblical notion of the equality of all believers. ("The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" pg1). Nonetheless, Huck conceded and acknowledged that he would go to hell, in which a sacrifice he was willing to make. In further context, Twain in his works is not a racist. In the manner he depicts Jim as a real person, who carries feelings and emotions, shows in fact that Twain is an opponent of slavery.
Huck had the common sense to see how slavery was a genuine blight to humanity. Contrarily the so called sophisticated society accepted it, even the "good people such as Miss. Watson." Huck matures further as he breaks that mask that society gave Jim, and accepts him as a normal person. Huck refers to Jim, "I knowed he was white inside." (Twain, pg 46). It shows how Huck, who was brought up in a very bigoted section of the country, that ingested all the hypocrisy of slavery, was still able to transcend it by just knowing this one "nigger", Jim. Furthermore, Huck's character changes as Jim teaches him about friendship. Their relationship becomes tighter, after the Huck's joke about him never had gone missing in the fog. Huck learns that Jim is a person is with feelings, and ultimately Jim induces this movement into Huck's maturity. This is the critical point of Huck's transformation, where Huck apologizes to Jim.
Huck's voyage down the Mississippi taught him much, but was mainly a frolic. But once it resumes, when Huck is taken up the Grangerfords, he journeys to the dark side of American civilization. The benevolent family who offer Huck to stay is in a burning feud between another family, the Shepherdsons. Twain uses these two families to employ in some deriding absurdity and to mock an "overly romanticizes ideas about family honor". Ultimately, the families' sensationalized feud gets many of them killed. Huck truly refutes society once he saw his new friend Buck, be shot and killed. Twain uses this incident to comment on all systems of principle that rebuffs the humanity of another set of people. Huck becomes befuddled in this episode. The Grangerfords are a mix of contradictions where they treat Huck well, but they own slaves and behave more foolishly with other family by killing one other. Is this what society dawns upon?
In the denouement, Huck transmogrifies into a full adolescent who now truly believes in his values, and deems that it should not be tractable and tarnished by society's laws. Near the conclusion of the novel, Huck and Tom make an attempt to free Jim who is held captured. After Tom's ludicrous plan fails, everyone learns that Jim was actually a free man for weeks (because Miss. Watson, in her will, allow Jim to be free when she died). This idea of freeing a free black man had a special resonance at the time Twain wrote this novel. Blacks during this time had much trouble integrating with society because of the racial subordination that was still present preceding the Civil War.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay." Novelguide.com.
December 14, 2009. <http://www.novelguide.com/huckleberryfinn/index.html>.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. United States: Bantum Books, Inc., 1884.