Huckleberry Finn Research Paper

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Huckleberry Finn: a Struggle for Freedom

Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn so innocently reveals the potential nobility of

human nature in its well-loved main characters that it could never successfully support

anything so malicious as slavery. Huckleberry Finn and traveling companion Jim, a

runaway slave, are unknowing champions for humility, mercy, and selflessness. “Twain

used realistic language in the novel, making Huck’s speech sound like actual conversation

and imitating a variety of dialects to bring the other characters to life.” The adventurous

nature of the story and its noble characters celebrates freedom from social and economic

restraint, and it is apparent from the beginning through his satiric portrayal of human

characteristics that Twain believes that all people deserve their own freedom. When

Huck is unable to take the restrictions of life any longer, whether they be emotional or

physical, he simply releases himself and goes back to what he feels is right and what

makes him happy. Hence, one of the most prominent and important themes of

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is freedom. Freedom not only from Huck's internal

paradoxical struggle in defining right and wrong, but also freedom from Huck's personal

relationships with the Widow Douglas and his father, as well as freedom from the societal

institutions of government, religion, and prejudices.

“The plot is a deceptively simple story about two runaways: Huck, a white boy

fleeing civilization, and Jim, a black man running away from slavery.“ Throughout the

story Huck is plagued with an internal moral dilemma of what he feels is right and what

he is taught is right. Huck is possibly the only character in the story that operates solely

on his own moral convictions. This produces significant conflict when the accepted rules

of society, often corrupt in nature, are imposed upon him. The best example of this internal conflict is Huck's brief experiences with organized religion. The teachings by the

Widow Douglas of the pathways to heaven are in constant conflict with Huck's own

beliefs. Because of this, Huck readily rejects the teachings of organized religion, and

therefore must often grapple with the undue guilt that this hypocritical heresy places on

him. Such is the case when Huck must decide on whether to protect the whereabouts of

Jim or to do the "Christian" thing and return Miss Watson her "property". Although Huck

ultimately does what he feels is right, the reader is left with a sense that the issue is not

completely eradicated from Huck's conscience. “When his true self triumphs over his

false conscience the emotional climax of the book is reached.”

The fact that Huck gives a valid attempt at conformity signifies that he has

somewhat of an interest in becoming what is considered "normal", and thereby pleasing

the Widow Douglas. There is a sense that Huck has a genuine gratitude towards the

Widow Douglas for taking an interest in his well being, especially since she appears to be

the only one that does so. However, given that his attempts are short-lived, it can be

assumed that Huck's desire to adhere to his personal virtues overpowers his desire to

become civilized or to please the Widow Douglas. In contrast, Huck appears to have no

desire to have a relationship with his father. At one point in the story Huck does not even

know if his father is alive or not, and apparently does not care to know. Because of his

father's alcoholism and unpredictable behavior, emotional freedom from him is easily

achieved by Huck. However, it is the physical freedom from his father that Huck must

accomplish in the story. Because of his jealously of Huck, Huck's father adopts the belief

that Huck is attempting to make a fool of him. Consequently, Huck's father uses this

belief as...
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