Autonomy Over Conformity
According to Jane Rule, “Morality is a test of our conformity rather than our integrity.” The main character of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, struggles with the conflict between doing what society believes is right, and doing what he thinks is right. Raised in the South, Huck was brought up to believe only what he was told by the people around him. But as he endured his own experiences and personal conflicts, he opened his ears to his own conscience rather than the outside voices feeding him his beliefs. Twain uses Huck’s journey to overcome societal pressure and his efforts to formulate his own idea of morality, to exemplify the importance of autonomy rather than conformity. The dangers of succumbing to the standards of society prevents us from doing what we know is right and instead makes us sheep rather than individuals.
In the 1800s, there was a common attitude of hatred toward blacks, clearly illustrated in Pap’s drunken rant addressing slaves’ rights to vote, “why ain’t this [slave] put up at auction and sold” (27). Twain’s use of Pap’s dragged on rant reveals the demeaning view of blacks as property rather than human beings. This strong opposition to their voting privileges greatly reflects the views of many Americans against abolition during this time period, displaying the ignorance and racism exhibited by most people. When Huck began travelling with Jim, a runaway slave, he had promised to keep quiet about Jim’s escape from his master. In the back of his mind, however, he worried that “people would call [him] a low-down abolitionist and despise [him] for keeping mum” (43). This line in the novel further emphasizes the abomination of protecting a slave in this society. Blinded by the racism and perception of blacks as inferior, people viewed abolitionists as “[slave]-lovers;” this being the worst title someone could possibly have during this period in time. Though Huck was willing to be Jim’s partner on...
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