Huck Finn-Individual Vs. Society

Word Count: 2824

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The conflict between society and the individual is a very important

theme portrayed throughout Mark Twain\'s The Adventures of Huckleberry

Finn. Many people see Huckleberry Finn as a mischievious boy who is a

bad influence to others. Huck is not raised in agreement with the accepted

ways of civilization. He practically raises himself, relying on instinct to guide

him through life. As seen several times in the novel, Huck chooses to

follow his innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own instincts

are more right than those of society.

Society refuses to accept Huck as he is and isn\'t going to change its

opinions about him until he is reformed and civilized. The Widow Douglas

and Miss Watson try to "sivilize" Huck by making him stop all of his habits,

such as smoking. They try to reverse all of his teachings from the first twelve

years of his life and force him to become their stereotypical good boy.

However, from the very begininning of the novel, Huck clearly states that

he does not want to conform to society. "The Widow Douglas she took me

for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me...I got into my old rags and my

sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied." (page 11) Huck says this

shortly after he begins living with the Widow Douglas because it is rough for

him to be confined to a house and the strict rules of the Widow Douglas.

When Pap returns for Huck, and the matter of custody is brought

before the court, the reader is forced to see the corruption of society. The

judge rules that Huck belongs to Pap, and forces him to obey an obviously

evil and unfit man. One who drinks and beats his son. Later, when

Huck makes it look as though he has been killed, we see how civilization is

more concerned about a dead body than it is in the welfare of living people.

The theme becomes even more evident once Huck and Jim set out

down the Mississippi. As they run from civilization and are on the river,

they ponder the social injustices forced upon them when they are on land.

The river never cares how saintly they are, how rich they are, or what society

thinks of them. The river allows Huck the one thing that Huck wants to be,

and that is Huck. Huck enjoys his adventures on the raft. He prefers the

freedom of the wilderness to the restriction of society.

Also, Huck\'s acceptance of Jim is a total defiance of society. Society

automatically sees a black person, and even further, slaves, as inferior. They

never think 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 is presumed incapable of such things. Ironically, Huck believes

he is committing a sin by going against society and protecting Jim.

In Chapter sixteen, we see, perhaps, the most inhumane action of

society. Huck meets some men looking for runaway slaves, and so he comes

up with a story about his father being on the raft with small pox. The men

fear catching this disease and instead of rescuing him, they give Huck money

and advise him not to let it be known of his father\'s sickness when seeking

help. These men are not hesitant to hunt slaves, yet they refuse to help a sick

man. This is contrasted to Huck\'s guilt felt for protecting Jim when he

actually did a morally just action.

Huck\'s acceptance for his love for Jim is shown in Chapter thirty-one.

Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson to return Jim, yet he ends up ripping the

letter and wishes to free Jim. "\'All right, then, I\'ll go to hell\'-and he tore it

up." (page 210) Here, we see that Huck concludes that he is evil, and that

society has been right all along.

The ending is perhaps most disappointing because it seems as though

through all the situations that Huck is growing up and accepting his innate

ideas of right, when in fact he hasn\'t grown at all. In the last