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Lord of the Flies vs. Huck Fin

Oct 08, 1999 2548 Words
Responsibility

In today's society, human beings must learn to take care of something or someone,and that is a responsibility that they must uphold. In both the Lord of the Flies, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the responsibility of the boys is to manage by themselves without any adults to take care of them. The events in William Golding's book Lord of the Flies can be easily compared to those of Mark Twain's book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, because the main characters both have major responsibilities. There are two responsibilities that the characters came in contact with, taking care of people,including themselves, and being responsible enough to do the right thing. Thus, responsibility helps individuals to evolve and mature.

Taking care of yourself, as well as others is an enormous responsibility. In both books, the main characters must take care of themselves because they do not know who they can trust. The boys in the Lord of the Flies basically have to live their own lives, for they are on an island with no one to run to except themselves, or some of the other boys that they trust. Although, the ones they trust are already fending for themselves. The characters all go through changes as they adjust to their new world, and become different people because of it. In example to this, Jack seems like a strong willed character at the start of the book, but the other boys never would have imagined he would turn into a cold blooded killer. Therefore, they must learn to take care of themselves for they can not depend on Jack or any of the older boys, to be there for each and every one of them. It is proven that each boy has this responsibility in the following quote;

"Merridew turned to Ralph. ‘Aren't there any grown-ups?' ‘No.' Merridew sat down on a trunk and looked round the circle. ‘Then we'll have to look after ourselves.'" (Golding 17)

This is an immense responsibility for the boys, because they never had to live on their own before they arrived on the island. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both Jim, the runaway nigger, and Huck choose the responsibility of taking care of themselves. This is because they both run away from the lives they had been living.

"But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat ‘uz killed in dat shanty ef it warn't you?' Then I told him the whole thing, and he said it was smart...‘How do you come to be here, Jim, and how'd you get here?'...‘Well, I b'lieve you, Huck. I - I run off.'" (Twain 42)

Huck and Jim meet many new characters throughout the book, and they do not know which ones they can trust. The reason they do not know if they can trust them or not,is because it is their first time meeting these strangers ever in their lifetime. Some of these characters turn out to be good people, but some of them are frauds. This is why they must take care of themselves, because they cannot depend on these new found friends to be their guardians. The characters must also take care of each other, and work together if they want to survive. For team work is a very important element if you want something to get done. The boys on the island, in Lord of the Flies, work together to get things accomplished. Some of these things include making shelters, building and keeping a fire going, and creating speared weapons. Each boy has a responsibility to take on, and if they do not fulfill it, they might end up on the island forever. The boys are placed in different groups to get the different jobs done. An example of a group established from the beginning is the "hunters", who arrived on the island as choir boys. "The choir belongs to you, of course.' ‘They could be the army -' ‘Or hunters -'" (Golding 19) The jobs that had to be completed were finished a lot quicker because of the different groups. It was each group's responsibility to accomplish their tasks. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck and Jim must also work together and take care of each other as they travel down the river. Huck, especially, must take special care of Jim, because he is a runaway black man who is in grave danger. The reason he is in so much danger, is because in the 1800s most niggers were slaves, and town folk could make money off of them by selling them, if they got their hands on them. Huck always made sure that Jim was hidden whenever Huck had to leave the raft, because he felt it was his responsibility to make sure Jim was never captured.

"Jim he spoke to the duke, and said he hoped it wouldn't take a few hours, because it got mighty heavy and tiresome to him when he had to lay all day in the wigwam tied with the rope. You see, when we left him all alone we had to tie him, because if anybody happened on to him all by himself and not tied it wouldn't look much like he was a runaway nigger, you know."

(Twain 151)

Jim did not really mind having to do this, because he knew that Huck was getting things done when he went into different towns, and that him, the Duke, and the King were making money. The four of them all worked together to get what they wanted, even though the Duke and the King wanted everything for themselves. Jim took good care of Huck, and learned to truly love him. He would let Huck sleep through the night, even though it was Huck's turn to keep watch. "I went to sleep, and Jim didn't call me when it was my turn. He often done that." (Twain 150) This quote proves that both Jim and Huck were always there for each other no matter what, or they probably would not have made it as far as they did. All of the characters learned many responsibilities, of both taking care of themselves and others. Although the boys on the island do not choose this responsibility, because they did not choose to be on the island, they still managed to deal with it. While Huck and Jim chose the responsibility of taking care of themselves, by embracing the idea of running away. All of the boys are very trustworthy towards others at the beginnings of their books, but they soon learn that appearances can be deceiving. Therefore, we see that in both books, the characters must work together as a team and their responsibility is to take care of each other.

Moral responsibilities
are learned at any early age. While, sticking to your instincts is a very hard thing to do, some of the characters manage to accomplish it. In Lord of the Flies, all of the boys get caught up in the hunting going on, and become savages. That is, all the boys except for Piggy and Ralph. Ralph never gives in to Jack's games and cruelty and, even though Ralph has no more boys on his side at the end of the book, remains the same person he always was. Ralph did not really care whether or not the boys had food, all he wanted was for the fire to keep burning so they could be rescued as soon as possible. Jack wanted to be the leader at all times, always wanted the boys to have food on their plates, and did not really care whether or not they were rescued. The reason for this, is because if they went back to the real world, Jack knows that he would be a leader no longer. But Ralph had a responsibility to stick to what he believed, which was not giving in to Jack. This is clearly shown by the way Ralph stands alone till the end, even if they kill or take away all his friends.

"He knelt among the shadows and felt his isolation bitterly. They were savages it was true; but they were human...Pretend they were still boys, schoolboys who had said ‘Sir, yes, Sir' - and worn caps? Daylight might have answered yes; but

darkness and the horrors of death said no. Lying there in the darkness, he knew he was an outcast."
(Golding 206)

Ralph's instincts told him to not become part of Jack's group, so he listened to them, although he got hurt, and could have been killed by them, because they wanted him dead. However, he chose the right decision, for he would never forgive himself if he had given in to Jack. Ralph had a moral responsibility and he stuck to it. Huck also stuck to his morals, as he encountered many new adventures each day while traveling down the river. The Duke and the King were bad influences on Huck, because all they wanted was money. They would go to any extreme to get it, even if it involved stealing from innocent people. When the Duke and the King pretend to be William and Harvey Wilks, Huck could not stand what they were doing to an honest family, so he decided to tell Miss. Mary Jane all about their plan. "I got to tell the truth, and you want to brace up, Miss Mary, because it's a bad kind, and going to be hard to take, but there ain't no help for it. These uncles of yourn ain't no uncles at all ; they're a couple of frauds - regular deadbeats."

(Twain 180)

The reason Huck feels he needs to tell Miss. Mary Jane these facts, is because his instincts are telling him to, and he sticks to his instincts. Huck would feel responsible if the King and the Duke got away with the money, and he knew it would be wrong if he did not put a stop to their evil plan. Both Huck and Ralph were able to distinguish between good and bad, and that is what made them solid, and admirable characters. Choosing right from wrong is a tough decision, but it is a big responsibility. Piggy had to choose which group he wanted to go in after everyone separated. Piggy chose Ralph as leader because he felt that Ralph could do a better job than Jack could ever do. Piggy did not like Jack from the beginning, because Jack was always very rude to Piggy, and made fun of him. It was tough for Piggy to stay with Ralph, for the entire book, because one by one everyone was leaving Ralph's group and going to Jack's group. But Piggy knew that he was making the right decision by staying with Ralph, to the very end, as he states here;

"Piggy paused, then went on. ‘We'll live on our own, the four of us -' ‘Four of us. We aren't enough to keep the fire burning.' ‘We'll try. See? I lit it.'"
(Golding 174)

Piggy had the responsibility of sticking up for Ralph, whenever somebody decided to talk bad of him. He also did everything Ralph asked him to do, because in his mind, Ralph was an excellent leader. Piggy chose this way of life on the island, because he felt it was the right thing to do. Just as Huck felt it was the right thing to do to get away from his father. Huck knew that it was wrong for him to fake his death, and leave his dad to fend for himself, but Huck could not stand to be picked on, by his dad any longer, and wanted to start a new life. He choose the right decision, because it was not right for his dad to beat him up, on a regular basis. Huck knew he would be responsible for the consequences, but he did not care because any life would be better than the one he had been living. This choice was right for him, and probably better for his dad, so his dad could realize that he really loved Huck and misses him, now that he is gone. It is obvious that Huck really wants to run away, as he starts to put his plan to escape, together in the following quote:

"I thought it all over, and I reckoned I would walk off with the gun and some lines, and take to the woods when I run away. I guessed I wouldn't stay in one place, but just tramp right across the country, mostly nighttimes, and hunt and fish to keep alive, and so get so far away that the old man nor the widow couldn't ever find me any more." (Twain 26)

Huck knows that his father is responsible for making Huck run away, because if he was not so mean to him, and didn't drink so much, Huck would not mind living with him. This is why running away was the right thing for Huck to do. Ralph, Piggy, and Huck all had moral responsibilities to uphold, and they all listened to what their consciences were saying. They stuck to their instincts, and turned out to be better men because of it. Ralph knew from the start that Jack's intents were not good, while Piggy knew that Ralph would be a better leader, without any help from Jack. Huck trusted his instincts and told Miss. Mary everything that was going on in her household, and he saved the day thanks to his morals. He also knew it was time to move on from his old life, and start a new one, that did not involve him getting beaten on. Therefore, even though these boys were quite young when they went through these situations, it shows that moral responsibilities are learned,and put to use at an early age.

All of the characters went through a lot in their books, but they learned even more about life by doing so. They evolved and matured because of all the responsibilities that they took on. In the Lord of the Flies, the characters had lots of responsibilities , and it was hard for them to achieve them because they were so young and were basically put on the island by mistake. They had to get used to their new lifestyle first, before taking on any responsibilities. Ralph was responsible for setting up the different groups to complete tasks, as he was also responsible for taking care of himself till the very end of the book, since everyone left him. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn is responsible for both himself and Jim, the runaway nigger. He also has many moral dilemmas, in which he must choose right from wrong, and this traces back to his instincts. Responsibility is a key factor in society, for if no one felt any moral responsibilities , the world would be corrupt and

would eventually diminish. This is why morals must be taught at home, from an early age, so that children can grow up to be mature, and responsible adults.

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