In Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he develops the plot of the story alongside the adventures of Huck and Jim, the main characters, allowing him to discretely criticize society. The two main characters both run from social injustice and both are distrustful of the civilization around them. Huck is considered an uneducated, backwards boy, constantly under pressure to conform to the "humanized" surroundings of society.
An example of social injustice first appears in chapter one as Miss Watson, Huck’s Guardian, constantly corrects him for his behavior, “‘Don’t gap and stretch like that, Huckleberry – why don’t you try to behave?’”(Page 14). Huck believes since he does not bother anyone for their behavior, no one should bother him for his. Miss Watson also wants to teach Huck about heaven, “she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it”(Page 14). Huck decides he does not want to go to heaven simply because Miss Watson is going there. This social injustice leads Huck to discover more injustice’s of the era.
The biggest social injustice in the novel as well as in the era is slavery. Early in the novel we see Huck as racist towards Jim, but Huck plays a trick on Jim and the outcome of the joke leads Huck to change his attitude towards African Americans, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward, neither. 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”(Page 91). After this point in Huck’s life he treats Jim like how he would want to be treated, he respects and cares about him. Late in the novel we see that Jim means a lot to Huck and saves his life while risking his own.
Twain shows his true feelings about the mob mentality in his time. When the mob gathers at Mr. Sherburns house we hear the full voice of Twain’s thoughts on the hypocrisy of a cowardice society, “the pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is – a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and their officers”(Page 144). Twain uses the colonel to show the public has nothing better to do than take up arms against a man just so they can catch a little action in town before returning to their boring lives.
Society can have a huge impact on an individual’s moral growth. Huck's conscience is put to the test during different experiences with other characters, and Huck finds his conscience to be immoral and based on ignorance. Twain shows that sometimes one must break away from society and what the world views as correct and just. An example is when Huck decides to save the slave Jim instead of turning him in which is morally wrong in society. Twain, through Huck, gives one the chance to see all the things in the world as they really are. Not so that one judges the world but so one can stand up for what is right.