October 24, 2004

Choosing to be an Individual in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

The conflict between society and the individual is an important theme portrayed throughout “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Huckleberry Finn in a way faces many aspects of society, which gives him the struggle of choosing his own individuality over society. In the beginning of the novel, we see that Huck practically raises himself and relies on his instincts to guide him through his life on Earth. In the world as Huckleberry Finn views it, society has corrupted the notion of justice and morality to fit the needs of its people in the nation at a particular period of time. In the next various paragraphs, I will show examples of how a society can greatly influence an individual, and sometimes the individual must break off from the accepted values and determine the ultimate truth for themselves.

In the very beginning of the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Huck plainly states that he did not wish to conform to society. Huckleberry Finn states in Chapter 1 that “the Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would civilize me.” This essentially led for Huckleberry Finn to state that he “got into his old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.” We find in this novel that Miss Watson is constantly picking at Huck and trying to make him as conventional as possible. We would often find in the novel how Miss Watson would constantly direct orders to Huck. These orders included that he must not “scrunch up like that, and set up straight.” I found that in reading this beginning section that Huck wants to be seen as an individual a person who is independent and has the willingness to live a life free of such complications.

After realizing this component of Huck’s personality, we can further identify the development of Huck as an individual that is outside of societies liking. We find next in the book that Huck’s own instincts tend to hold him in a higher moral standard than those of society. We first see this in the novel with Huckleberry’s decision to help free Jim, a known slave, is an example of one such occurrence. Huckleberry Finn recognizes Jim as a human being, but is actually fighting the beliefs bestowed upon him by society that believes slaves should not be free. However, it is even more important to realize though that Huckleberry’s decision creates the conflict between society and him. But, what Huckleberry Finn does not realize is that his decision defines his personal justice, the righteousness, and even the heroism of his own self that is developing.

The most prominent example of Huck’s ability to develop a self outside the constraints of society is best outlined in Chapter 31. The most compelling aspect was when Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson to return Jim, yet he ends up ripping the letter and wishes to help free Jim. When Huck states “all right, then, I’ll go to hell,” Huck concludes that he is actually evil, and that society has been in the right all along. The concept that Huck doesn’t realize is that his goodness comes actually from within.

In reading the final sections of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I found several other web log entries of my peers to coincide with several of my findings both in research and breaking down the text. The entry that I wanted to especially touch upon was done by Erin Manko. I agreed both with her presentation and blog entry that outlines in terms of slavery that Huck wanted and did go against society in terms of accepting Jim as a friend and not just a slave. It was after this presentation that I decided to research this topic further and discuss it more in depth as I have done.

I have found in researching the novel in terms of depth that I uncovered topics that were not necessarily found when reading it the first two previous times. This area of research goes to show and prove exactly how much information can be retained with discipline and an open-mind.

Posted by MelissaHagg at October 24, 2004 7:25 PM
Comments

Melissa,

I did pay close attention where Huck says that "he'll go to hell" for helping Jim escape slavery. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he has developed a close relationship with Jim. He is expressing his individuality by making his own decisions. I liked how you brought up several incidents in the story that express Huck's feelings. It is very thorough research and I'm able to place everything together that relates that Huck is an individual. Keep up the good work. :)

-Nabila

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 25, 2004 5:50 PM

Nabila,

I am very glad that you were able to piece together information after reading my research on Huckleberry Finn. However, I did not really pick up on how you felt before you read my research. Did you feel different or were you indifferent and never really even considered the possiblity that Huck was struggling in terms of individuality versus society? It is just interesting to see how an individual felt before reading my research to see how much further I have helped or not helped :)!! Hope to hear back from you!!

Melissa

Posted by: MelissaHagg at October 26, 2004 1:59 PM

Melissa,

Oh, absolutely your presentation has helped me to understand Huck as an individual. I have noticed the changes Huck is going through and how he is coping with his life. Huck was supposed to do what Miss Watson and the widow wanted to do like wear nice clothes, go to school, learn religion, etc. Now, Huck has made his own decision of whether or not to turn in the letter to Miss Watson about Jim, so that he can be sold. He decided not to, and will suffer the consequences later on in life. It appears to me that he knows what is right and wrong, but he doesn't care about society's views. So, your presentation has made realize how Huck is growing as an individual through your examples. Thanks! :)

-Nabila

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 26, 2004 10:09 PM

Nabila,

I am glad that I could help further your comprehension!! I am glad that I can return the favor because you have allowed me to do the same several different times :) Hope to keep up the insightful conversations!

Melissa

Posted by: MelissaHagg at October 31, 2004 8:57 PM

where does it say that Huck has resolved to help Jim obtain his freedom? I know it does but im having a hard to getting a quote to put in for my research paper.

Posted by: wiepie at October 1, 2005 10:03 PM

This did not help>> Huck understood that not turning in Jim was the right thing to do, not the opposite way around... If you actually talked to a teacher with this boot you'd understand that. Honestly, in every way Huck defies society in helping Jim escape, scamminf people, 'borrowing' items. Im the end when Huck said "all,right,then Ill go to hell" he knew that what he was doing was RIGHT and even though it was against society, it was the BEST thing to do.

Posted by: Krisztina at April 1, 2007 5:47 PM
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