Bildungsroman in Huckleberry Finn

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According to Merriam-Webster, a bildungsroman is “a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character.” Huckleberry Finn is an ideal example for this type of character. Just from his simple changing perception of slaves, especially Jim considering that he lives in such a racist and restrictive society. Huckleberry Finn is an illustration of a bildungsroman because he overcomes many stereotypes and preconceived notions about slaves and blacks. His changing and growing personality is displayed throughout the novel and shapes the theme of tolerance that is shown.

Huckleberry Finn’s view of Jim at the beginning of the novel is very typical of what any perception would be of a slave during this time period. He thinks of Jim just as Miss Watson’s slave; not a person and definitely not a friend. However, when he and Jim find each other and go out to the island, this is when Huck begins to see Jim as a person, not just a slave. This was a major step because Huck grew up with the notion that slaves were less than him, and he reversed that stereotype within his mind. When he must make the decision whether to reveal the whereabouts of Jim, Huck states, “It was a close place. I took . . . up [the letter I'd written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I'll go to hell”—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.” He could have done what he was supposed to and make Jim return to Miss Watson, but instead he goes against what is considered ‘right’ in his society, and does what is right, which is a massive step and this displays how Huckleberry Finn is a bildungsroman.

At the beginning of the novel, Tom Sawyer convinces Huck that in order to become one of the ‘robbers gang,’...
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