The conflict between society and the individual is a very important
theme portrayed throughout Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn. Many people see Huckleberry Finn as a mischievous
boy who is a
bad influence to others. Huck is not raised in agreement with the accepted
ways of civilization. He practically raises himself, relying on instinct to guide
him through life. As seen several times in the novel, Huck chooses to
follow his innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own instincts
are more right than those of society.
Society refuses to accept Huck as he is and isn't going to change its
opinions about him until he is reformed and civilized. The Widow Douglas
and Miss Watson try to "sivilize" Huck by making him stop all of his habits,
such as smoking. They try to reverse all of his teachings from the first twelve
years of his life and force him to become their stereotypical good boy.
However, from the very begininning of the novel, Huck clearly states that
he does not want to conform to society. "The Widow Douglas she took me
for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me...I got into my old rags and my
sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied." (page 11) Huck says this
shortly after he begins living with the Widow Douglas because it is rough for
him to be confined to a house and the strict rules of the Widow Douglas.
When Pap returns for Huck, and the matter of custody is brought
before the court, the reader is forced to see the corruption of society. The
judge rules that Huck belongs to Pap, and forces him to obey an obviously
evil and unfit man. One who drinks and beats his son. Later, when
Huck makes it look as though he has been killed, we see how civilization is
more concerned about a dead body than it is in the welfare of living people.
The theme becomes even more...