To Be “Sivilized”
In Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn, a Southern wild boy who struggles to be either socially right or morally wrong, goes on an adventure with Tom Sawyer, his best friend. Huck is adopted by Widow Douglas, a widow woman who wants to civilize Huck. Huck later escapes Pap, his abusive father, by faking his own death in order to run away from a society that tries repeatedly to tame his free spirit. As Huck runs away, he runs into various characters like Jim, the run away slave who he helps to become free in Ohio, the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, two wealthy families who feud over an ancient quarrel, and Colonel Sherburn, a brace Southern war hero. Through the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, Colonel Sherburn’s senseless killing, and Huck’s search for morality, Twain demonstrates the idea that it’s never been so uncivilized to be “sivilized.”
The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, symbols of Southern gentility, ironically prove to be the most uncivilized members of society. The Grangerfords and Shepherdsons actions display an uncivilized attitude when they bring their weapons to church: “Next Sunday we all went to church, about 3 miles, everybody a-horseback...guns...kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall.” (120). Their actions of bringing the guns isn’t as uncivilized except that it seemingly becomes so natural and common to both families to bring their shot-guns to church makes it more uncivilized because the two families who portray of the wealthy side of Southern aristocracy yet act like they don’t have any morals or rules they live by as a well-mannered Southerner. The irony continues with the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons when Huck states “handy” in the quote referring to both families being ready at any given moment to shoot one another while listening to a sermon they both speak highly of. Although both families think it’s sort of irrelevant that they are willing to shoot one another...
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