In the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck goes through many adventures on the Mississippi River. He escapes from Pap and sails down the Mississippi with an escaped slave named Jim. Huck goes through the moral conflict of how wrong it is to be helping Jim escape to freedom.

Eventually, Huck decides he will help Jim and actually steals him from a farmer with the help of Tom Sawyer, a friend. Even though Huck and Jim are trying to sail to the Ohio River which leads to freedom, they pass it in the dark.

Over the course of the novel Huck’s opinion of Jim changes. In the beginning of their voyage, Huck feels he shouldn’t be helping Jim to freedom and almost turns him in to slave catchers Twain 87 “I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this (that Huck is his one and only friend) it seemed to take the tuck all out of me.”.

Huck begins to enjoy having Jim’s company, and when Jim is sold by the Duke and the King, Huck breaks down and cries while asking the Duke where Jim is Twain 208 “‘sold him’ I says, and begun to cry; ‘why he was my n*****, and that was my money. Where is he?– I want my n*****.”. Then Huck steals Jim from the Phelps farm (even though he was already set free by Miss Watson’s will).

Huck Finn changes as we go through the story because Jim is really almost his slave and he grows to like having Jim wait on him.
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain depicts Southern life and society in the 1870s. The main point that Twain makes is that Southern life is not as glorious as it’s made out to be. We can tell this be several ironies between the way Southern life was depicted and the way Twain describes them.

One of the ironies is that plantation owners were supposed to be like kings, but Twain takes one of these “kings”, Colonel Sherburn and has him kill Boggs, the town drunk. If these plantation owners were kings they’d have no reason to be killing drunks. Another irony is that Southern society is supposed to be based on European aristocracy, but in reality the characters in this book are nothing but loafers and idiots.

They are quick to pass judgment like when Huck tells the slave catchers that people on his raft have smallpox (on page 88) and they instantly believe him and give him money.

Violence is the general outcome of most situations in this novel. An example of this is the funeral when a dispute arises when the real Wilkses arrive they decide that they’ll kill all four of them Twain 195 “The whole billin’ of ‘m ‘s frauds! Le’s duck ’em! Le’s drown ’em! Le’s ride ’em on a rail!”. Mary Jane is a good example of one of the few good intelligent Southerners in this book.

In Huck Finn Twain uses women throughout the novel. Some of the women like Mary Jane and Mrs. Loftus (when Huck dresses as a girl) are used to help Huck. Mary Jane aids in catching the Duke and King, and Mrs. Loftus gives Huck some valuable information Twain 57 “…but husband’s going over to see (if Jim’s on Jackson Island)- him and another man”.

Another way women are used in this novel is as controlling figures. The widow and Miss Watson are two characters who try to control or “sivilize” Huck and are generally viewed as bad people.

It may be surprising but Huck Finn wasn’t considered a racist for the time that this story occurred. Huck Finn acted and thought just like many other Southerners Twain 213 “..(Huck)We blowed out a cylinder head. (Aunt Sally) Good gracious! Anybody hurt? (Huck) No’m killed a n*****. (A.Sally)

Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.” Back then negros were treated as objects or animals. The word ‘n*****’ was the normal word for a black person. That is why this book is so controversial today.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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