Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The novel does not aim to touch the hearts of slavery, but embeds the period into a young boy’s adventure. Religion constantly intertwines with slavery negatively in a negative way. This leads to the conclusion that Twain might have painted religion negatively for several reasons: his personal view on religion, the common belief in the antebellum South was that God had made black people naturally inferior, and that slavery was accepted, and that the church was an easy target for satire. Twain 's narrator is never explicit, but still, the connection between Christianity and slavery, and what Twain believes that connection implies, is hard to miss. In fact, it is difficult to find a character in the novel that is Christian and does not have his or her morality called into question over.
While Huck is often perplexed by religion, the novel does not always show religion in a positive light. It is important to note that religion was extraordinarily important in the South during this era. Without excluding details relating to slavery, Twain depicts the church as a common ground that unites people, "Oh, come to the mourners ' bench! come, black with sin! (AMEN!) come, sick and sore!... come in your rags and sin and dirt! the waters that cleanse is free, the door of heaven stands open – oh, enter in and be at rest!" (20.31) Although this quote puts the worst of racism and slavery into a criticism of their belief in Christianity, it emits a feeling of peace and security when on the holy grounds. Still, it is obscure and far-fetched, to think that the mere respect for religion at church could bring peace to a bloody feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons. It not only shows the irony in the book, but also in the characteristics of Huck. Huck is originally rebellious against the will of Widow and Miss Watson but becomes what Taylor feels, “As
Cited: Page Hellwig, Harold H. “Mark Twain’s Travel: Looking for an Identity in Fiction.” Mark Twain’s Travel Literature. The Odyssey of a Mind. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008. 144-162. Rpt. In Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Kathy D. Darrow. Vol. 260. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resource center. Web. 17. Feb. 2013. James, Pearl. “An overview of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in, an essay for Exploring novels, Gale.” (1998). Rpt. In Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resource center. Web. 17. Feb. 2013. Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Norton, 1999. Print. Literary Criticism Taylor indicated it was, “[those] who say much but do little, that Twain denounces throughout his novel by juxtaposing Huck’s moral development outside of church and his Christian community to the moral dearth of the church-going Mississippi Christians.” Taylor said, “Jim commits himself to protecting Huck without monetary reward, despite Huck’s fluctuating loyalty…Unlike Miss Watson, pap and other members of Huck’s community, Jim has no hidden motives in protecting Jim…He only wants a companion, a friend.” Taylor also says, “Huck’s loyalty to Jim instead of to cultural traditions provides the first step in Twain’s cure for American Christianity.” Finally, Taylor feels, “As unchristian as it may seem to willingly go to hell, Huck’s resolve to be damned before betraying Jim reveals the depth of Huck’s Christlike love for his friend…despite his youthful flaws, Huck learns to love others more than himself.”