Huckleberry Finn: Morality vs Society
Morality is what sets humans apart from the animal kingdom. We act on our beliefs, instead of our instincts, which perhaps makes us the flawed species. As humans, we all develop our own set of morals of which we use to make decisions in our day to day life. We use this moral compass to differentiate between right and wrong, but what we see as the right thing to do is not necessarily our own opinion, but societies. Adventures of Huckleberry finn by Mark Twain demonstrates that morality and society are one and the same. Huck has the opinions and morals of society constantly thrown in his face, and instead of giving into those values, he creates his own. Huck was raised without a mother, who provides an essential role in determining a child's morals and beliefs. Huck’s motherless upbringing allowed him to develop morals of his own based on experience, not on hand-me-down morality. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn also shows us how stereotypes created by society influence the way we act towards others. Religion is definitely the largest component to determining one's morality. Religion literally lays out societies laws and values, and how can one argue with something when they believe their afterlife depends on it. These were not only issues that came up in our past, but in our present and most definitely our future. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will always be relevant to society as long as humans walk the earth. By nature, humans desire to fit in with society and fear rejection. Huck teaches us that society isn't always right, it is our individual opinions that should determine our actions, not what the general population believes. If there weren't people to voice their opinions about the treatment of african americans, then we would still have slave to this very day. Also, if these lessons are not continually taught to future generations, history may one day repeat itself.
Morals tend to get passed down from generation to generation. You raise your kids the way you parents did you, and their parent did for them. You teach them what you think is right and what you think is wrong, and that becomes their morals, “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me” (Twain 3). Translation, “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son so she could brainwash me into believing her own set of morals.” The Widow took Huck into her home, not out of the goodness of her heart necessarily, but out of the desire to mold him into one of societies little clones. The moral compass we create in our own head is easily molded by outside influence, for Humans seem to have this compelling desire to fit in with the rest of the population. Huck grew up without a mother so he was essentially a “blank slate” that was able to develop his morals based on his own personal experiences, not those forced upon him, “Huck Finn, a motherless, isolated child who has neither well-developed cognitive skills nor solid perceptions of social reality, does in fact develop morally” (Altschuler 32). Hucks isolation from society, many would assume, would make Huck a rather immoral and almost barbarian like individual, but instead Huck is found to be more ethical than most of society at that time. Huck's moral compass is relatively non judgmental. Despite his pre-programmed definition of a black person, he still be-friends Jim and goes well out of his way to help free him, risking his own life for a man that is just considered property. Huck, even when he thinks that he is making the wrong decision (though it would actually be considered a selfless and caring path), follows to the beat of his own ethical drum as opposed to that of societies. Huck exhibits what John Locke would consider genuine human nature. Huck is naturally selfless and caring for others, sometimes that faith in people gets him stuck with the wrong crowd (such as the King and Duke). The fact that Huck grew up isolated from society seems...
Cited: American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 , Vol. 22, No. 1 (Fall, 1989), pp. 31-42
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Nineteenth-Century Fiction , Vol. 40, No. 4 (Mar., 1986), pp. 412-437
Published by: University of California Press
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