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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oct 08, 1999 1334 Words
While there are many themes expressed in the

novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

one makes a stronger presence by its continued,

if not redundant display of itself. Far too often in

society people's lack of knowledge on a given

subject causes their opinions and actions to rely

strictly on stereotypes created by the masses.

This affliction is commonly known as ignorance.

This is curable but people have to become

open-minded and leave their reliance on society's

viewpoints behind them. In the novel, The

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain,

the ignorance of society becomes extremely

evident at many parts of the book. Society forms

ideals for all walks of life and then lets them

become like stone in their minds. Thus, once a

person has been put into a group they will remain

there forever. The ignorance of society is clearly

seen when one looks at Huck Finn, Jim the

Slave, Pap, and the senseless violence of the

Grangerfords and the Shepardsons.

Many people see Huckleberry Finn as a

mischievous boy who is a bad influence to

others. Society refuses to accept Huck as he is

and isn't going to change its opinions about him

until he was reformed and civilized. The Widow

Douglas and Miss Watson try to "sivilize" Huck

by making stop all of his habits such as smoking,

etc. They try to reverse all of his teaching from

the first twelve years of his life and force him to

become their stereotypical good boy. The rest of

the town also refused to view him as good until

they received visual proof of this. Until then, he

will be viewed as someone undesirable. The only

time that the town's people are able to put away

their views of Huck was when there was

excitement to be found, like when they all

crowded on the steamboat to see if the cannons

can bring Huck's body to the surface. Everyone

got interested in him and tried to show that they

cared about him, but this is only after he is

presumed dead. They take on these views to

follow society in its ignorance. Few of them

would have cared about Huck before because

they didn't know him and didn't want to know

him, but since taking interest in mysteries was the

popular thing to do, society did it. Although Huck

is viewed in an ignorant light, he was also in

accordance with this novel and very ignorant

himself. Huck said "I thought it all out, and

reckoned I would belong to the widow if he

wanted me, though I couldn't make out how he

was a-going to be any better off then than what

he was before, seeing I was so ignorant, and so

kind of low-down and ornery." Huck talks about

Pap with some disgust and disregard. While

Huck is not completely afraid of him in this quote

as he later becomes, he still does not show

respect for his father. The following is a good

representation of what Huck does and does not

understand. "I studied a minute, sort of holding

my breath, and then says to myself: ‘All right,

then, I'll go to hell'--and tore it up." Huck wrote

a letter to Miss Watson but tore it up. He decided

that he would go to hell for Jim. Another good

example is when Huck was having problems with

Jim wanting his children back. "...[Jim] would

steal his children -- children that belonged to a

man... a man that hadn't ever done me no

harm." This quote shows that Huck is still

troubled by helping Jim and that he still does not

yet understand that Jim is just as human as those

people who own his children. This shows a stage

in his growth in understanding about slavery and


Society once again set the stereotypes in another

section of the book by their feelings toward Jim

and Pap. Society automatically sees a black

person, and even further, slaves, as inferior.

They never thought of slaves as human beings,

only as property. A slave, such as Jim, could be

the nicest, most caring person you have ever

met, but since he is a slave he would be

presumed incapable of such things. While society

is doing this it will let a person whom is as evil as

Pap go on without question. Society's ignorance

shines radiantly once again. They have the

knowledge that Jim is a slave but make no

judgments on his personality. This is shown

when they assume that Jim killed Huck just

because he ran away near the time of Huck's

death. They don't consider the motives of such

an action, but just look at the surface facts that

he might do this because he is savage, missing,

and possibly in the area at the time. Pap is also

suspected, but not as much as Jim even though

he has a motive, and could have easily

committed such an evil deed in one of his

drunken stupors. Society, because of their lack of

knowledge of the personality of Jim,

automatically assumes that he is the one that

committed the murder. Society makes superficial

accusations because it doesn't know what has

really happened or of the true feelings of the two

suspects. Again, society isn't the only ignorant

party. Jim is awfully ignorant, and if you search

for proof you need to look no further than any

direct quote in which he is speaking. "What's de

use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries

en sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't you?

Den we kin git sumfn better den strawbries."

(When I typed this out it drove my spell check


In another part of the novel the Twain illustrates

the ignorance of society very well with the feud

between the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons.

When Buck Grangerford was questioned about

why he shot at Harvey Shepardson he first

exclaims in disbelief that Huck doesn't know

what a feud was, and says "Why, nothing -- only

it's on account of the feud." Then, however, he

doesn't know why the two families are feuding in

the first place and hasn't made any effort to find

out. It is remarkable that people will continue on

an old grudge without knowing how it originated.

On top of that, they won't make any attempts to

gain knowledge about the subject. Buck, in this

fragment of the novel, represents how society

often bases its actions on what it has been told by

others without questioning the motives. When

Buck was asked when the feud was started, he

told Huck that he didn't know, but replied,

"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the

other old people; but they don't know now what

the row was about in the first place." Without

true knowledge of why the feud is occurring one

might wonder how people could continue on with

the killing. It may seem bizarre, but so are many

of the other actions of society.

When a large group of people takes one

viewpoint others are often forced into this

mentality even if they are more enlightened.

People can oppress others into conditions by

forcing their incorrect views on them. They often

will not allow people to rise through the ranks

without blatant proof of improvement. The

oblivious members of society who only consider

the surface instead of looking deep for true

knowledge can falsely accuse people. Society

constantly judges people based on stereotypes of

a certain group and it often fails to consider the

personality of an individual. Society takes action

without being properly informed or will take up

arms against opposing groups just because

someone who it respects has blindly told them to.

The ignorance of Society constantly causes

people, issues, and views to be regarded in

adverse ways.

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