The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Huck Grows Up Many changes violently shook America shortly after the Civil War. The nation was seeing things that it had never seen before, its entire economic philosophy was turned upside down. Huge multi-million dollar trusts were emerging, coming to dominate business. Companies like Rockefellers Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel were rapidly gobbling up small companies in any way possible. Government corruption was at what some consider an all time high. The Rich Mans Club dominated the Senate as the Gilded Age reached its peak.
On the local front, mob bosses controlled the cities, like Tammany Hall in New York. Graft and corruption were at an all time high while black rights sunk to a new low. Even after experiencing freedom during the Civil War, their hopes of immediate equality died with the death of Lincoln. Groups like the KKK drove blacks down to a new economic low. What time would be better than this to write a book about the great American dream, a book about long held American ideals, now squashed by big business and white supremacy? Mark Twain did just that, when he wrote what is considered by many as the Great American Epic. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The great American epic, may be one of the most interesting and complex books ever written in the history of our nation.
This book cleverly disguises many of the American ideals in a child floating down the Mississippi River on a raft with a black slave. On the outside of the story, one can see an exciting tale of heroism and adventure; however, that is not all. The book shows Mark Twains idea of the classic American idealism, consisting of freedom, morality, practicality, and an alliance with nature. Twain manages to show all this while poking fun at the emergence of the robber barons, better know as the big business of the late nineteenth century. Twain portrays many different American values in this book by expressing them through one of the many different characters.
The character that Twain chose to represent morality and maturation is none other than Huck Finn himself. Throughout the novel one sees many signs of change. The setting is constantly fluctuating, except for the constant Mississippi, and Huck and Jim, a runaway slave, under-go many changes themselves. At the end of the novel Huck Finn shows a large change in his level of maturity than he had exhibited in the beginning of the book. As the book begins, Mark Twain gives the reader a view of a little boy and his best friend.
The reader gets a brief overview of events that place the friends in their current positions. Twain shows this position to give the reader an introduction to Huck Finn. As the story opens, the reader quickly grasps the idea that Huck Finn, by nature, does not show the ideas of civilization. This civilization, which is forced upon Huck by the Widow Douglas, shows how Huck gets to be so rebellious and immature. Hucks immaturity is further displayed in his attitudes towards black people.
Huck and Tom, Hucks friend, are constantly attributed to pranks played on a slave named Jim. In general, it appears as though Huck is a follower of his friend Tom Sawyer. Huck must conform to Toms ritualistic ways, straying from his own practical ways. It seems as though Huck is incapable of making his own decisions. Huck always followed Tom in his silly childish games, like pretending they were pirates. In these childish games the immature children would pretend to stop stagecoaches and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.
These games, based off of what Tom had pieced together from novels, demonstrated the lack of maturity of the boys. In this opening setting the reader views one side of Huck, one of immaturity mainly dominated by Tom Sawyer. This view seems to radically change as time progresses. The first time that Huck Finn is shown is shown to be varying from the original immature figure that he is displayed as in the opening of the novel, is when Huck goes to Jackson Island. On the island the reader catches his first glimpse of an independent Huck. Huck is brought away from both civilization and Tom, who together silence his inner maturity.
In this demonstration of freedom, Huck is able to live happily by himself, only proving that civilization is holding back the real Huck. It seems that the further Huck ventures from civilization, the more mature he becomes. On Jackson Island, Huck meets up with the black slave that he and Tom used to hassle. Huck quickly establishes that the slave, Jim, is a runaway. Huck then takes it upon himself to help Jim runaway, thinking of it as an adventure. Call me a low down abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum, is all Huck has to say on the matter, but he keeps quiet just the same.
He shows his first big step in his maturation here by being tolerant of Jim and not rejecting him as a subordinate, as he and Tom had done earlier. On the island the reader does still see signs of a Huck that is not maturing. On the island Huck is frightened by Jims superstition. After Huck holds a bit of snakes skin, Jim becomes fearful because to him that is a sign of bad luck. Later, after getting bit by a snake, Jims superstition is validated.
This only pushes Huck further towards believing in Jims superstition. The island is the first place where the reader can see Hucks maturation; however, it certainly isnt the best example of his growth. The best example of Hucks growth as a mature individual undoubtedly occurred with his experiences with the King and the Duke. These two characters, probably the antithesis of maturity and morality, help not only to strengthen Huck Finns values, but also to help him realize what they were in the first place. The basic plan of the Duke and King is to go from village to village along the Mississippi and con people out of their money.
At first Huck just goes with the flow and does what the King and Duke say. However, as the story progresses, Huck becomes more and more unwilling to do what the King and Duke say. He develops a morality, and with that matures to the level where he is able to detect that what the King and Duke are doing is wrong. Jim often aids Huck in his recognition of this, and because of this, Huck and Jim …