Page 20: “”Which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call that govment!””
Initially, the depictions of Huck’s father seem to depict imagery more in line with a slave and slave owner rather than a father and son. Soon after Huck’s father returns into his life, Judge Thatcher and the widow try to get custody of him so that he can keep his money as well as be safe from his father. While Huck is staying with his father during the proceedings, Huck’s father rants that about Huck that he
“”Which he has had all the trouble and all the anxiety and all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got that son raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And they call that govment!”” (Twain 20).
In his short rant to Huck, his father reveals top the reader that he look upon his son as property, like a slave, rather than a son whom he loves. Following Huck’s large fortune that he amassed with Tom Sawyer, Huck’s father finally stood a chance to become rich and therefore he returned into his son’s life. Huck’s father himself says that the government wants to take his son just as he “”begin to do suthin’ for him and give him a rest.”” In using this specific language, Huck’s father implies that he only believes it is unfair that Huck is being taken away because it will cause him to lose out on Huck’s money. Instead of acting like a father, Pap instead symbolizes a cruel slave owner. At the time in the south, African Americans were slaves and were regarded as property. In his interactions with Huck, Pap mirrors this behavior. Many slave owners fought in the legal systems to keep the slaves merely because they viewed the slaves as just a way to make more money. Furthermore, the manner in which Huck is powerless and Pap gets a way with anything in front of the judge is emblematic of the manner in which slaves were powerless in the Southern legal systems. While being regarded as property, slaves could be treated however their owners wished due to the fact that the owners could convince judges of whatever they pleased, similarly to how Pap duped the new judge in town. In his depiction of Pap, Twain is able to show how the legal system allowed cruel people like Pap to prosper, while powerless figures such as slaves, and in this case Huck, to suffer and be treated cruelly.
Page 39: “”You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands. Well here is your bad luck! We’ve raked in all this truck and eight dollars besides.””
“” I’ve always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do.””
Immediately, after Huck touches a snakeskin with his bare hand, Jim begins to worry as he accepts a superstition that it is bad luck. Meanwhile, Huck thinks it is nonsense and says “”You said it was the worst bad luck in the world to touch a snake-skin with my hands. Well here is your bad luck! We’ve raked in all this truck and eight dollars besides.””(39). In Huck’s comments to Jim, he implies that Jim’s superstitions are nonsensical. Huck believes that he has found money that the superstition is nonsense because he he has found $8. Later on, as Jim looks at the new moon, Huck believes that he “”always reckoned that looking at the new moon over your left shoulder is one of the carelessest and foolishest things a body can do.”” While casually describing his own superstition, Huck highlights the irony of his previous thoughts on Jim’s snakeskin superstition. Though Huck believed that Jim’s ideas of superstition were nonsense, Huck has no problems believing his own superstitions. In highlighting both the superstitions of both Huck and Jim, Twain highlights the rejections of the individual of a common belief in favor of personal superstition. Neither Jim nor Huck are religious and both reject Christianity, yet they devoutly adhere to their own personal superstitions. Huck’s irony is further perpetuated by rejection of the ideas of the widow. The widow is incredibly devout and her superstitions instead come from a place of faith. Ultimately, Twain highlights the manner in which the individual uses their own superstitions a mechanism to explain phenomena in one’s life as opposed to reason and fact.
Page 54: “”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, then how would I like it.””
Soon after leaving the murderers to die, Huck suddenly begins to ponder the morality of his actions. After floating a few hundred yards downriver, Huck “”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, then how would I like it.””(54). Through his pondering of the morality of leaving murderers to die Huck reveals his deep and ingrained sense of morality and justice. Though the men had left another man to die, Huck feels that it is “”dreadful… even for murderers””(54). implying his sense of compassion for all forms of people. Moreover, Huck’s compassion for all people diverges from the general opinion of the people around him. Just before his run-in with the robbers, Huck had spoken with Mrs. Watson. While Mrs. Watson showed compassion to Huck, as she believed him to be a runaway, she showed no compassion for Jim who was a slave. Through Huck’s showing of compassion for all forms of people, Huck reveals his moral compass which disregarded race and background and instead focused more on the morality of Huck’s own actions.
Page 81: “”He never done nothing to me.””
“”Only it’s on account of the feud.””
Page 82:””And by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud.””
As Huck speaks with Buck about why he was tempted to murder Harney Stephenson, he says “”Only it’s on account of the feud.””(81). In doing so, Buck reveals the stupidity of his feud with the Stephenson. While trying to justify his reasoning to want to murder, the best Buck can come up with is that there was a feud between the families. Though there is a feud, Buck cannot seem to come up with a specific reasoning for any of his thoughts. Furthermore, Buck say that the feud ends after enough people get involved and “”By and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud.””(82). In Buck’s final statement, he highlights the foolishness of the feuds of individuals. The Stephenson and Grangerford families feud runs deep, yet no one appears to have a clear and justifiable reason for it. Yet, the two families believe the end to the feud will come only with the death of everyone involved. The feud between the two families is emblematic of the stupidity of feuds between individuals. Twain touches on the fact that individuals run away from their problems instead of resolving them. Though the two families could resolve the feud, instead they run away from the issue to the extreme where they wish to kill each other.
Page 101: “”Then he showed us another little job he’d printed and hadn’t charged for, because it was for us. It had a picture of a runaway nigger, with a bundle on a stick, and a “”$200 reward”” under it.””
In his interactions with Huck and Jim, the so called “”king”” acts as though he is a poor lost soul who is their friend. Yet, as time progresses, the King shows his true colors and reveals the fact that he and the Duke are serial conmen who will do anything to make a quick buck. While they are in town, the King prints out pamphlets including a fake pamphlet of Jim. On the raft, the king shows it to Jim and Huck, and it “”had a picture of a runaway nigger, with a bundle on a stick, and a “”$200 reward”” under it.””(101). Though the pamphlet in a certain context could be an innocent joke, in this context it implies both the cruelty and power that the King has over Jim. As he gives Jim the pamphlet to Jim, the king is further cementing his power over Jim. As a runaway slave, Jim is in a vulnerable and powerless position and must therefore live in constant fear. In his giving the pamphlet to Jim, the king is showing that he can reveal his secret at any time. Besides cementing his power, the king also shows his extreme cruelty. Though Jim and Huck had been helpful to him, the king treated them as he did everyone, with contempt. In his position of power, the king manipulated it to the maximum revealing his lack of compassion for people and his extreme need to make money.
Page 114: “”But we don’t want to be the laughing stock of this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long as we live. No. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town! Then we’ll all be in the same boat. Ain’t that sensible?”” (“”You bet it is!””the jedge is right!”” everybody sings out.)””
Following the first night of the show, the people who attended realized they have been conned by the men. Yet, instead of warning others not to go, the people in attendance do the complete opposite and encourage people to go see the show. One man reasons that “”We don’t want to be the laughing stock of this whole town, I reckon, and never hear the last of this thing as long as we live. No. What we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town! Then we’ll all be in the same boat.””(114). In his brief speech, this one man unveils society’s fear of being perceived as fools. After being conned, the people who attended are now afraid that their peers will perceive them as the fools who were dumb enough to go to the show. Instead, by encouraging others to attend, the man is further reinforcing the idea that “”misery loves company””. Though the men feel foolish for being conned, they believe it will be less stigmatizing for them if all their peers have the same experience. In doing so, the men reveal their inherent pettiness underneath the personas that they put up in public.
Page 140: “”I felt awful bad to see it; of course anyone would.””
As Mary Jane is crying over the separation of the slave family, Huck desperately tries to comfort her. While Mary Anne is crying, Huck remarks “”I felt awful bad to see it; of course anyone would.””(140). In his comments regarding Mary Anne, Huck reveals that he never truly shed all of his southern upbringing. As Mary Anne is crying, Huck feels terrible not because of the family that was being seperated, rather due to Mary Anne’s crying. In doing so, Huck reveals that while he often shows compassion to blacks, Huck can still tolerate the separation. Upon seeing black persecution his whole life, Huck becomes normalized to these types of events. Yet, Huck shows compassion to Jim and other blacks further complicates his situation. Huck is capable of compassion, as he shows by stealing the money in order to try and attempt to give it to the girls, yet he can idly stand by while the black family is being seperated. Though he comes a long way from his initial upbringing, Huck has still not shed it fully. In this situation, Huck shows the side of himself that felt guilty when Jim wished to steal back his family as he felt he was wronging not Jim, but the people who owned Jim’s family. Huck’s challenges with feeling compassion for the black family highlights the complex fabric of southern life at the time. Even those who felt sorry for African American slaves still could often not fully shed their prior feelings which had been built up over time. While individuals such as Mary Anne felt compassion in the family separation, they may have not have felt it in others similar to it.
Page 161: “”It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “”All right, then, I’ll got to hell”” and tore it up.””
Ultimately, as Huck sees Jim faces a future life of slavery, Huck stands at a crossroads as he must decide whether to alert Mrs. Watson, or to help Jim go free. In this situation, Huck understands the gravity of this situation and “”was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed.””(161). Huck’s realization that his decision would be “”forever”” reveals his understanding of the gravity of the situation. Even though Huck understands that either way he will burn bridges, he comes to the decision that “”I’ll got to hell”” and tore it up.”” In his tearing up of the letter, Huck symbolizes his decision his southern upbringing and the ideals that came with it. Whereas previously, Huck sided with whites against blacks, here he sides with Jim and decides to help set him free. Huck previously in these situations felt bad for the slave owners rather than the slaves themselves. Yet here, Huck shows that any sympathies and misgivings he had about helping Jim were gone. In saying “”I’ll go to hell”” Huck implies that he would rather be with Jim and be with him rather than have the approval of whites and Mrs. Watson. In helping Jim, Huck knows he will lose the approval of those around him, and “”go to hell”” in the eyes of whites such as Mrs. Watson. Yet, in ignoring all this, and helping Jim, Huck reveals that he would rather be morally correct and “”go to hell”” than do the “”wrong thing”” that society expected him to do.
Upon the reemergence of Tom Sawyer in his life, Huck suddenly reverts to his old habits. Though Tom agrees to free Jim, he feels the need to do it in his way. In doing so, Tom wishes to over complicate the plan in order to follow his idea of what a “”cool”” escape would be. After Tom begins to concoct all sorts of nonsense, such as Jim needing a rope ladder, Huck says “”if it’s in the regulations, and he’s got to have it, all right,””
(Twain 181). In giving into Tom’s nonsense, Huck reveals that he is the still the same submissive boy of the past. Previously, Tom came up with nonsensical ideas such as forming a band of robbers based on his foolish ideas of how robbers operated. Similarly, here and later on, Tom creates an image in his mind of a brave rescue of Jim, and Huck merely looks on and follows without protest. Prior to Tom arriving, Huck had acted upon his morals and new set of beliefs, such as his care for Jim even though he was a black man. Yet, as Tom arrives, all this go as out the window and Huck reverts to his old statuts of listening and believing in Tom’s ideas. Huck’s near immediate reversion to his old ways highlights the manner in which individuals influence each other. Though individuals may abide by certain moral rules, these often go out the window come the presence of peer pressure. In highlighting the dynamic between Huck and Tom, twain reveals the extent to which peer pressure can control people.
“”Why, I wanted the adventure of it; and I’d a waded neck-deep in blood to- goodness alive, Aunt Polly.””
Ultimately, Tom reveals himself to the family, following the arrival of Aunt Polly, as well as unloading the bombshell that Jim had already been set free by Mrs. Watson. When asked why he concocted a plan to set Jim free, Tom says “”, I wanted the adventure of it; and I’d a waded neck-deep in blood to- goodness alive, Aunt Polly.”” Through his reply, Tom reveals the utter immorality of his actions in “”freeing”” Jim. Tom’s admission that he did this all for an “”adventure”” implies some serious issues with his sense of morality. In concocting a plan to free Jim, Tom managed to hurt nearly everyone around his while coming out virtually unsacthed. Initially, To m made Huck uncomfortable by forcing him into the plan. Next, Tom scared Jim by making him deal with the plan and being involved with snakes and spiders which deeply frightened him. Lastly, Tom scared his Aunt Sally by making her think she had gone crazy, as well as frightening her to the point where she assembled a small militia to protect her from a nonexistent band of robbers. Yet after causing all this pain and suffering, Tom seems to feel absolutely no guilt. Though he was shot in the process, Tom relishes the fact that he got the thrill of doing something valiant. In his depiction of Tom’s immorality, Twain highlights the ways in which the world can be unjust. Though Tom had committed an extreme transgression, he is free to move on with his life with little to no repercussion. Meanwhile, Jim, the only person who acted morally in the story, is left to fend for himself as a black man in the South. While Tom would be free to live his life as he pleased, Jim could not as he was black man in the South.
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