Huck Finn: Societal Values

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The Way We See Society and the Individual Clash

When societal expectations clash with individual beliefs and morality, an atmosphere of tension is bound to occur, whether that is within the individual or between the individual and society. Historically, the most volatile issues are centered on this dilemma. The stages right before the revolutionary war when the colonists were deciding whether to declare independence exemplifies this perfectly. In more American and European societies, the individual works for himself and society second, whereas in Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, there is more a tendency to put society as the first priority. Huck Finn encounters this dilemma. Personally, I have come across this dilemma when tempted with things like drugs and alcohol. Many high schoolers succumb to these temptations because it is a lot easier to go with the societal norm, i.e. your friends, than with what you know is right internally. It primarily occurs with his relationship with Jim. While Jim is Huck's friend, Huck understands the societal norm of looking down upon slaves and expecting that a runaway slave to be turned in to the authorities. Society vs. the individual: who wins?

Society Wins
"... and get somebody to go for that gang and get them out of their scrape, so they can be hung when their time comes." (Ch. 13)

Social expectations are everywhere. When people, especially women, see supermodels that are tall and thin, there is a silent expectation that they also need to

look like this. The dark side to this industry is the unspoken means to how the women get there. This is where social expectations clash with internal morality. These models know that bulimia and anorexia are not healthy ways to slim down, but society expects that these women will look a certain way. In this case, society wins. In another very famous example, Anne Frank's story is where society wins. Though morally one sides with Frank, she was eventually killed by...
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