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Lessons Learned in Huck Finn

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Sofia Morales-Bello

on 10 February 2014

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Transcript of Lessons Learned in Huck Finn

Lessons Learned in Huckleberry Finn
Lessons Learned on the River
Huck learns a variety of life lessons on the Mississippi River that contribute to the growth of his character. He not only learns how to live away from society's demands and rules, but he also learns the values of friendship; values he uses to make decisions based on what his heart tells him.
Conclusion
Huck's moral progression can be traced throughout the book beginning from his total lack of morals to being able to make the right decisions on his own. It is only with the help of Jim as a moral guide that Huck is able to undergo this moral transformation to use his own judgement and truly progress. The situation that Huck is encountered with about choosing friend over society is the main dilemma that pushes Huck to establish his own standards of morality, rather than accepting those that society has set forth. The combination of lessons learned on the river and on land perfectly mesh to create the result of Huck Finn maturing from boyhood into manhood.
The Raft
The raft that Jim and Huck use on the Mississippi River to escape society is a major symbol in the novel. The raft exemplifies an environment in which there are no rules or regulations, where there is complete separation from the outside world. Peace and solitude are a result of this escaped haven. However, Huck and Jim are constantly put to the test and are forced to make decisions on their own with the risk of being found out and sent back to Missouri.
"So in two seconds away we went a-sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river, and nobody to bother us" (Twain 154-155)
Decisions
When he is approached by men with guns looking for runaway slaves, Huck is met with the perfect opportunity to turn in Jim. In this moment, Huck's conscience is constantly reminding him that he knew Jim was
"running for his freedom"
from the beginning and he
"could a paddled ashore and told somebody" (Twain 66).
However, Huck's heart and love for Jim leads him to decide to protect his friend-a decision based on what he thinks in his heart is right.

In this instance, it is evident that Huck has learned that sometimes doing what society demands is not always right, and following your heart can result in making the right decision.
In
the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, by Mark Twain, Huck Finn is a teenage son of an abusive father whose inner morals develop throughout the novel primarily by the lessons he learns while trying to free a slave. In this presentation, we have highlighted some of the main lessons learned by Huck Finn on the Mississippi River and its shores that develop some of his outstanding qualities.
Huck and Jim's relationship on the river grows stronger as their journey progresses. Huck's acknowledgment of Jim as a friend instead of property proves his ability to accept others based on morals. In many cases, Jim displays fatherly characteristics and his actions reveal his desire for Huck to be safe. However, Huck finds himself wanting to turn his friend in when he realizes that people who follow the rules of society would never help a slave gain freedom.
Huck and Jim
So..
Huck and Jim's journey on the Mississippi, although chaotic at times, proved to develop Huck as a heartwarming and strong character who learns how to put others before himself.
Introduction
Huck's Maturation
Water
There are a plethora of differences between the lessons Huck learned on land versus the lessons he learned on the water. In the novel, the water represents a calm safe haven for Jim and Huck on their journeys to freedom. It was the one place Jim and Huck could escape from "sivilization." It is in the river where Huck realizes what he believes in his heart is more important than what others tell him to do. Although in reality Huck and Jim cannot escape to the river haven forever, the river serves as an accurate symbol of Huck's internal conflict between what he believes is right and what society wants him to believe is right.
"I was Powerful glad to get away from the feuds and so was Jim" (Twain XVII).
Shows how Huck believes that once he is in the river all the "feuds" in his life will seem to just float away like he does. Although this seems like a solid strategy for him throughout the novel, once he gets back to the land his feuds are there and are followed by more.
Land
Unlike the serene haven the water portrayed in the novel, the land was there when the transient whim of the river came crashing to reality. The land is where all of Huck and Jim's downfalls happen. The most notable demise was the meeting of the Duke and Dauphin. They took advantage of Huck and Jim and even tried to sell Jim. The land is the place where temptation was introduced to Huck and he started to question his intentions versus society's.
"I begun to get it through my head that he [Jim] was most free- and who was to blame for it? Why, me. I couldn't get that out of my conscience no how nor way. It got to troubling me so I couldn't rest." (Twain XVI)
It is here where Huck starts to question whether keeping Jim safe is worth going to Hell for, and by the end he decides it is worth it.
So...
The land is a symbol for the oppression that Jim felt while he was enslaved by Huck's legal guardian, while the water represents the taste of freedom he was striving throughout the novel to get. Huck indirectly got to feel the differences of oppression and freedom, but not from a slavery stand point like Jim. Huck was battling his own internal conflict when it came between society's oppression on their beliefs and his own morals.
The symbols linking the Land and the Water
By: Nina McDermott, Lily Austin, and Sofi Morales-Bello
The main character of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn undergoes a total moral transformation upon having to make life defining decisions throughout his journey for a new life. Huck emerges into the novel with a backwards state of mind caused by living with a drunken and abusive father, and with the absence of any direction. It is at this point where Huck is first seen without any concept of morality. Although Miss Watson and the Widow Douglass accept the challenge of "sivilizing" Huck, he prefers to look up to Tom Sawyer. Throughout the novel, Huck and Jim encounter many situations which in turn help develop Huck's mental maturity.
"Now was the first time that i begun to worry about the men- I reckon I hadn't had time to before. I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain't no telling but I might come to be a murderer myself, yet, and then how would I like it" (Twain 67).
This is the first time that Huck questions the effects of what he has done on other people. After he realizes that he could now be considered a murderer, he makes a plan to get a captain to go investigate the wreck in order to save the men's lives. Even though the men he would be saving are murderers and robbers, he can not justify being responsible for their death, and makes it a point to correct what he has done wrong. This is the first major step in Huck's moral progression. At that point, he establishes a set of standards that considers leaving the men to die as immoral. The fact that this revelation occurred on the river continues the symbolic representation of the river as a middle ground away from society's influence.
"The more I studied about [turning Jim in], the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven, whilst I was stealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn't ever done me no harm, and now was showing me there's One that's always on the lookout... I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared" (Twain 193).
It's no coincidence that these troubling thoughts came into Huck's head as he rested on land. As opposed to when he is floating down the river, being on land brings back all of society's ideas and morals and causes Huck to begin to reevaluate helping Jim to achieve freedom. Having the voices from his past, like Miss Watson and the Widow Douglass, back in his head whispering everything he was taught to believe was right makes it even harder for Huck to make his own decisions based on his new found morals.
"I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time, in the day, and in the night-time,... talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him...; and at last I struck the time i saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper. I took it up, and held it in my hand... 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" (Twain 195).
This is the first time he makes a decision all on his own based on his own morality. He could have chosen to take the easy way out and return Miss Watson's "property," but at some point during Huck and Jim's adventures, Jim became way more than just property in Huck's eyes, he became not only a person but a friend. This incident represents Huck's ultimate realization and rejection of society.
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