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The Role Of Greed in The Adventures of Huck Finn
Transcript of The Role Of Greed in The Adventures of Huck Finn
Mark Twain's Purpose in Including These Characters
"...and so, sure enough, Tom Sawyer had gone and took all that trouble and bother to set a free nigger free! and I couldn't ever understand, before, until that minute and that talk, how he could help a body set a nigger free, with his bringing up"(358)
Mark Twain's Hope for Society
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain focuses on those who possess greed towards material wealth or selfish desires to express his overall disappointment in the corruption of society and his lingering hope for a better future.
Characters Who Portray the Corruption of Society
"These rapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch again, because
there was so much money in it
, but they judged it wouldn't be safe, because maybe the news might a worked along down by this time. They couldn't hit no project that suited exactly; so at last the duke said he reckoned he'd lay off and work his brains an hour or two and see if he couldn't
put up something on the Arkansaw village
; and the king he allowed he would drop over to
without any plan, but just
trust in Providence
to lead him the profitable way — meaning the devil, I reckon. We had all bought store clothes where we stopped last; and now the king put his'n on, and he told me to put mine on. I done it, of course."
""Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it's like. Here's the law a-standing ready to
take a man's son away from him
-¬ a man's own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising...That ain't all, nuther. The law backs that old Judge Thatcher up and helps him to
keep me out o' my property
...The law takes a man worth six thousand dollars and up'ards, and jams him into an old trap of a cabin like this, and lets him go round in clothes that ain't fitten for a hog."
Chapter The Last
"The first time I catched Tom private I asked him ...what it was he'd planned to do if the evasion worked all right and he managed to set a nigger free that was already free before? And he said, what he had planned in his head from the start, if we got Jim out all safe, was for us to run him down the river on the raft, and
plumb to the mouth of the river, and then tell him about his being free, and take him back up home on a steamboat,
, and pay him for his lost time, and write word ahead and get out all the niggers around, and have them
waltz him into town with a torchlight procession and a brass-band
, and then he would be a
, and so would we. But I reckoned it was about as well the way it was."
"Ain't they no Shepherdsons around?"
They said, no, 'twas a false alarm.
"Well," he says, "if they'd a ben some,
I reckon I'd a got one
They all laughed, and Bob says:
"Why, Buck, they might have scalped us all, you've been so slow in coming."
"Well, nobody come after me, and it ain't right. I'm always kep' down; I don't get no show."
"Never mind, Buck, my boy," says the old man, "
you'll have show enough, all in good time
, don't you fret about that. Go 'long with you now, and do as your mother told you."
Tom's awareness of Jim's condition makes all the adventures futile
He even admits that the trip was solely for his benefit to become a "hero"
Buck focuses solely on his desire to satisfy the "feud" and murder others
He barely acknowledges the new stranger in his house
The Duke and King are so greedy that they try any way to scam people in various towns
Huck goes along with it, even though he does not necessarily agree with it
Contrast between cheating people and "Providence," Huck acknowledges this
Each character expresses greedy behaviors and selfish desires that provide conflicts throughout the text
Through these characters Twain expresses his dissatisfaction with society and its morals
People strive for material wealth and economic desires...instead should be focusing on spiritual endeavors such as helping others and ending slavery
Huck's feelings against these kind of negative emotions transition into Twain's hope for a better future
"Why, drat it, Huck, it's the stupidest arrangement I ever see.
You got to invent all the difficulties
. Well, we can't help it, we got to do the best we can with the materials we've got. Anyhow, there's one thing- there's
in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers, where there warn't one of them furnished to you by the people who it was their duty to furnish them, and you had to contrive them all out of your own head."
"Then what on earth did you want to set him free for, seeing he was already free?"
"Well, that is a question, I must say; and just like women! Why, I wanted the
adventure of it
; and I'd a waded neck-deep in blood to — goodness alive, Aunt Polly!"
Greed Towards Power and Money
Strong Need For Adventure and Fame
"Well, WASN'T he mad? He said he would
show who was Huck Finn's boss
he watched out for me one day in the spring, and catched me, and took me
up the river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to the Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn't no houses but an old log hut in a place where the timber was so thick you couldn't find it if you didn't know where it was."
Buck/ The Grangerfords
Desire for Murder and Success
"Did you want to kill him, Buck?"
Well, I bet I did
"What did he do to you?"
He never done nothing to me
"Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?"
"Why, nothing -- only it's on account of the
"What's a feud?"
"Why, where was you raised? Don't you know
what a feud is?"
"Buck went off 'thout waking me up."
"Well, I reck'n he DID! Dey warn't gwyne to mix
you up in it. Mars Buck he loaded up his gun en
gwyne to fetch home a Shepherdson or bust
. Well, dey'll be plenty un 'm dah, I reck'n, en
you bet you he'll fetch one ef he gits a chanst."
Doesn't want Huck to steal his time/power
Would rather kill a Sheperdson than survive
The King and Duke
Greed Towards Wealth and Superiority
"When we got back to the raft and he come to count up he found he had collected
eighty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents
. And then he had fetched away a three-gallon jug of whisky, too, that he found under a wagon when he was starting home through the woods. The king said, take it all around, it laid over any day he'd ever put in in the missionarying line. He said it warn't no use talking, heathens don't amount to shucks alongside of pirates to work a camp-meeting with."
Juxtaposition- church and stealing
Intense greed for wealth in any way possible
not sell out the rest o’ the property
? March off like a passel of fools and leave eight or nine thous’n’ dollars’ worth o’ property layin’ around jest sufferin’ to be scooped in?—and all good, salable stuff, too...We
sha’n’t rob ’em of nothing at all but jest this money
. The people that BUYS the property is the suff’rers; because as soon ’s it’s found out ’at we didn’t own it—which won’t be long after we’ve slid—the sale won’t be valid, and it ’ll all go back to the estate.”
Wants to rob individuals of all their money and property
Even has a desire to cheat people
Although Tom reveals his main intentions for trying to rescue Jim, there is still a benefit of doubt that maybe Tom did at least partially want to save Jim in return for Jim saving him, regardless of risking his own life.
"It was a close. I took...up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwit two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: "All right then, I'll go to hell"--and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming."
Huck Finn represents a glimmer of hope for society to move on and overcome the slavery issue. Throughout the book he evolves into a different and more independent person which is what Twain hopes for the new generation. Twain focuses on Huck's constantly altering views on society and conformity to emphasize his desire for a change in order to end the corrupted morals and values in society.
"And his aunt Polly she said Tom was right about old Miss Watson setting Jim free in her will..."(358)
Mark Twain compares Miss Watson to society, relaying a message that it's necessary for society's constant greed and desire for material things to "die" in order to move forward as a whole.
On the other hand, Twain ridicules the idea that Miss Watson had to die or leave this world in order for Jim to finally obtain his freedom.
These actions haven't changed much; society hasn't changed almost at all.
Tom's inability to change
Even by the end of the text he still has no regrets
Pap has a son that he takes advantage of to satisfy his drinking habit
He believes that Huck being "his" gives him a right to take his money
Takes advantage of gullibility for their own selfish desires (makes them feel more superior)
Abuses religion for their benefit
This family is so caught up in the feud and murder that they are not able to even consider anyone else
Cannot connect on a personal level with others
"The duke he grumbled; said the bag of gold was enough, he didn't want to go no deeper--didn't want to rob a lot of orphans of everything they had." (Chapter 26)
The New Judge
"When he got out the new judge said he was agoing to make a man of him. So he took him to his own house and dressed him up clean and nice, and had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family, and was just old pie to him, so to speak."
-False hope; the judge represents Mark's view of society how they don't change even though he has hope
-opposite of society
-the judge is willing to be selfless and generous and invite Pap to dinner
-a glimmer of hope that maybe society can change and feel remorse from their unmoral actions and greed
When the duke and king deceive the towns people and Mary into believing that they are Peter Wilkes' brothers and the rightful owners of the property, she is more than willing to give it to them.