Tom Sawyer's Effect on Huck's Moral Development

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People, especially children, are extremely impressionable. We form our own moral compass from the examples of those we respect and admire. For this reason, Huck, in The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn, is influenced by his best friend, Tom, for the majority of the story. Only when he is freed of Tom’s influence, is Huck able to make any moral developments and solidify his own values. Through this novel, Mark Twain aims to show us how twisted society’s values are and how easily Tom influences Huck’s decisions.

Huck looks to Tom Sawyer for advice on everything because Tom represents the educated, well-read part of society. Huck thinks that because Tom is educated, he must know what is “right” or “wrong”. However, Tom’s lack of respect for others; emotions is evident early on. When Tom and Huck are sneaking out of the widow’s house, Tom decides to play a prank on Jim. Huck says “...I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees, and play something on him.” The boys are in danger of getting caught but Tom still goes out of his way to trick Jim, for the fun of it. This demonstrates Tom’s twisted values; he doesn’t care about whether or not Huck gets in trouble and Jim gets upset, so long as he gets his adventure. Huck is always trying to make better decisions but Tom’s example pushes him towards inhumanity.

As Huck travels farther away from Tom and society, he struggles to let go of Tom’s image. He constantly wishes Tom was there to approve of his decisions. When he begins to let go of society, he also begins to question the moral values that have been instilled in him. After he tricks Jim into thinking that he dreamed of the fog, he feels so bad for hurting Jim’s feelings that he apologizes. Afterwards, he says “I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way.” This moment shows the compassion that Huck has developed toward Jim, a...
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