In Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, he utilized diction to illustrate the change in Huck’s view on slavery and more specifically, Jim; from believing that all slaves are subhuman and ignorant to befriending and respecting Jim as his equal.
The dramatic situations Huck and Jim share create trust, which strengthens their relationship despite society's view on black people. The juxtaposition of society and Hucks morals are put to test during the scene when Jim and Huck get separated due to fog. Huck believes it is a good idea to lie to Jim and tell him that's it was all a dream. Jim becomes angry at Huck, not for lying, but for not understanding the consequences of his actions. Huck was truly remorseful, and against society, he was willing to apologize to Jim, even though he was a black man.
Huck, therefore, sees Jim as his friend and ignores society’s expectations to treat him less than human. After tearing up the letter he writes to Miss Watson, Huck “... studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell’” (214). Huck realizes that Jim is in need of assistance so he decides to do what is morally correct, which is to help Jim escape.
So, when Huck picks up Jim, a recently escaped slave, and heads up the Mississippi River, he gets nervous when Jim begins to talk about how he will soon be free and plans to buy, or even steal, his wife and children. This was during a time where Huck would be committing a crime by helping a slave escape. He has a difficult time deciding to be loyal to his friend and let Jim continue up the rest of the way up north so that he can be freed, or to turn Jim in as an escaped slave. Huck fears getting in trouble, but he also is very torn because of the relationship that he now has with Jim. Huck’s askew sense of sympathy and morality are conflicting each other.
Although there are numerous instances where Huck’s moral growth can be seen, the individuals around such as Jim, will influence his moral growth greatly. Jim, a runaway slave, is the most influential individual when it comes to Huck’s moral development. During the beginning of the novel, Huck’s morals are primarily based on what he has learned from Miss Watson. Huck begins to become wary of such ideals that Miss Watson has imposed on him, and decided all he wanted “…was a change” (Twain 10).
Civilization, and being “civilized” are topics that have been debated for centuries. In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, Huck Finn journeys down the Mississippi River and witnesses many of society’s facets. During his adventures, Huck experiences the negative aspects of the human race and witnesses slavery, racism, and con-men. However, Huck himself is considered uncivilized to the point where the Widow Douglas can only attempt to “sivilize” Huck (13). The dichotomy between what was considered civilized at the time and what Huck believes is civilized represents the backwards, violent, and cruel nature of society as well as Huck’s progressiveness. Civilizationed, in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, involves violence, theft,
Smiley says that throughout the entire story “Twain really saw Jim as no more than Huck’s sidekick”, as "Jim is never autonomous never has a vote, always finds his purposes subordinate to Huck's, and, like every good sidekick, he never minds” (Smiley). Yet, we see in Huck’s moral dilemma, how he understands how great and amazing of a person that Jim is when they were “floating along talking, and singing, and laughing”, that he finally defeats the concept of Jim being just a ‘sidekick’ or a slave (HF. Chp 31). Huck truly sees Jim as his equal when he commits his entirety to saving Jim, getting mad that to society, Jim amounted only to “forty dirty dollars” (HF. Chp 31).
Naturally, as his bond with Jim cultivates, Huck unknowingly treats him as a human. Through Huck’s sensibility, he states, “It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all … I hadn’t no objections, ‘long as it would keep peace in the family; and it warn’t no use to tell Jim, so I didn’t tell him” (Twain 125). Correspondingly, Huck gains a consideration for Jim and his personal feelings, which he expresses nonchalantly through motley aspects of their journey.
Huck has been burned with the idea that he is to blame for Jim’s escape. Huck ultimately feels guilty because he knows he has not done wrong but he has no reason not to believe what society thinks because he was only taught one way. Huck imagines an alternate scenario, thinking “s’pose [he]’d’ a’ done right and give Jim up, would [he] felt better... No…[he'd] feel bad” (91). Huck is aware that the right decision based on society is to give up Jim.
This leads into the main internal conflict that Huck must face. He must chose whether to break federal law by running away with Jim, a slave, or to do what society believes what is right and return him back to his owner. In the end, Huck chooses to not turn Jim in and go on a journey with him, defying the laws of the country. Johnson says that this recommends disobedience and defiance on the part of young people, however it does the opposite. This shows that Huck’s moral values are more in tune with making the right choice than society’s.
Jim tells Huck he hit her for not listening to get to work, but he then finds out she has been recently made dea when she did not react to the door slamming shut from the wind. He realizes he hit her when she never even heard Jim to begin with. Jim was so distraught begging for forgiveness from the Lord and his daughter, because he would never forgive himself for his mistake. This shows Jim’s deep rooted connection with love of others and his humanity. Not only that, but Huck realizes he cares deeply for his family and is capable of emotions that otherwise racist ideologies have told him are not possible.
The turning point in this book is when Huck makes a conscience decision to help Jim escape no matter what herm that would be putting himself into. This is significant because before this point, Huck felt good for helping Jim but internally he still had the conflict of what was the right thing to do by society’s standards and buy his own. This was the first time that he looked straight into the face of society and turned down its hold on him. It is slight ironic because really Huck had already made that decision a few times over subconsciously like when Huck first ran into Jim on the island. There he choose to help Jim with no questions asked, so I doubted that he would ever have turned Jim in anyways. The book documents Huck’s rite of passage
Huckleberry Finn 's journey is far more than a journey up the Mississippi - it is a journey from boyhood to adulthood. How did the decisions he had to make during the journey help him to mature, and what were the two or three most important lessons he learned during the journey?