Twain uses Husk’s journey to overcome societal pressure and his efforts to formulate his own idea of morality, to exemplify the importance of autonomy rather than conformity. The dangers of succumbing to the standards of society prevents us from doing what we know is right and instead makes us sheep rather than individuals. In the sass, there was a common attitude of hatred toward blacks, clearly illustrated In Pap’s drunken rant addressing slaves’ rights to vote, “why anti this [slave] put up at auction and sold” (27).
Twain’s use of Pap’s dragged on rant reveals the demeaning view of blacks as property rather than human beings. This strong opposition to their voting privileges greatly reflects the views of many Americans against abolition during this time period, displaying the Ignorance and racism exhibited by most people. When Houck began traveling with Jim, a runaway slave, he had promised to keep quiet about Jims escape from his master. In the back of his mind, however, he worried that “people would call [him] a low-down abolitionist and despise [him] for keeping mum” (43).
This line in the novel further emphasizes the abomination of protecting a slave in this society. Blinded by the racism and reception of blacks as inferior, people viewed abolitionists as “[slave]-lovers;” this being the worst title someone could possibly have during this period in time. Though Houck was willing to be Jims partner on their Journey, he still thought about the consequences of his decision and how It would damage him socially. During Houck and Jims Journey down the river, the two were able to create a special bond that allowed Houck to see slaves In a way he was never able to before.
Themes In Huck Finn
Following several instances of playing tricks on Jim, Houck realized the degree of these inconsiderate ranks. Seeing the sadness and disappointment in Jims eyes, he exclaimed “l wouldn’t done it if I knew it would make him feel that way” (87). Husks eyes opened to the fact that slaves really do have feelings. Jims reaction to the ordeal sparked a feeling of remorse and regret for his poor decision to humiliate his friend. He experiences an emotion he never would have felt if he was back home in SST.
Petersburg, where he wouldn’t have been able to recognize a situation like this with another slave. When Jim speaks of his children back home and his mission to free his Emily from slavery, Houck responds by thinking, “l do believe he cared Just as much for his people as white folks does for theirs” (158). By this point in the novel, Houck was able to make connections. In contrast to the common societal beliefs, Houck created a new view that conveyed slaves the same as whites; In the sense that they substantial amount of empathy to come to such conclusions.
Husks ability to create these convictions exemplify his growth and development of what he views as morality, steering him away from the things he was raised to believe and formulating individual conceptions. Uniquely, the idea of society and conformity was attacked by Colonel Sherbets in the midst of an angry mob threatening to lynch him in front of his own home. Shrubbery’s tirade verbally charged at the mob’s efforts, declaring, ” a mob; they don’t fight with the courage that’s born in them, but the courage that’s borrowed from their mass” (148).
Twain uses this part of Shrubbery’s speech to suggest that courage is not merely following someone else’s cause, but doing what you believe is the right thing. This form of “Justice” is meant to portray followers of ass as valiant and heroic, but they are really cowardice in the sense that they are not fighting for a cause that they strongly advocate for individually; only conforming in an effort to succumb to societal pressure. Colonel Sherbets continues by Judging the validity of their bravery, amour newspapers call you brave people so much that you think you are brave… Whereas you are Just as brave and no braver” (148). This particular part of the speech demonstrates the false sense of valor that comes with following society’s moral standards. Though it appears that giving into what appears o be right, it isn’t always necessarily correct. It is our own views of morality that aid us in determining right from wrong, not the mind of a larger body. By following the influence of other people that all believe the same thing, we’re unable to progress as individuals and compose our own morals.
Notably, Husks personal conflict regarding whether to turn Jim in to Ms. Watson or to continue protecting him, addresses the importance of moral independence. Houck fears the will of God, “the plain hand of Providence [was] slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was Ewing watched all the time from up there in heaven” (214). The reference to God addresses the fear of not only punishment from a social standpoint, but a religious one.
By helping a runaway slave, Houck was essentially committing a mortal sin and therefore would eventually be punished for this action by going to hell. This factor ultimately put a strain on his decision mainly because what he believed was the right thing contradicted the word of not only society, but a mightier power that could damn him to hell after death. Following this contemplation, however, Houck ripped up the letter that he planned to turn in to Ms. Watson about Jim, asserting, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” (215). This quote is essentially the moral climax of the whole novel.
Despite society views on slavery and the expectation that runaway slaves should be turned in, Houck came to the conclusion that his moral compass was more important than that of others. This assertiveness was an act of independence, exemplifying that we come to realize that what society does isn’t always right. We must depend on ourselves to differentiate right from wrong and make the decisions in the best interests of ourselves and others. Houck broke away from society false perception of eight, which was the demutualization of slaves, and made the decision to help Jim because he saw him as a friend and not as property.
Houck valued integrity rather than conformity. Though Houck was brought up in the prejudice of Southern culture, he was able to overcome the pounding pressure of society. Husks decision to follow his own moral compass exemplifies the importance of independence, illustrating that wrong. Twain’s emphasis on the dangers of overcoming the influences of society in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, show the importance of discovering ourselves as individuals rather than following the masses.