Huckleberry Finn

The conflict between society and the individual is a theme

portrayed throughout Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Huck was not raised

in accord with the accepted ways of civilization. He practically

raises himself, relying on instinct to guide him through life. As

portrayed several times in the novel, Huck chooses to follow his

innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own

instincts are more moral than those of society.

From the very beginning of Huck's story, Huck clearly states

that he did not want to conform to society; "The Widow Douglas she

took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me... I got

into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and


When Pap returns for Huck, and the matter of custody is

brought before the court, the reader is forced to see the

corruption of society. The judge rules that Huck belongs to Pap,

and forces him to obey an obviously evil and unfit man. One who

drinks profusely and beats his son. Later, when Huck makes it look

as though he has been killed, we see how civilization is more

concerned over finding Huck's dead body than rescuing his live one

from Pap. This is a society that is more concerned about a dead

body than it is in the welfare of living people.

The theme becomes even more evident once Huck and Jim set out,

down the Mississippi. Huck enjoys his adventures on the raft. He

prefers the freedom of the wilderness to the restrictions of

society. Also, Huck's acceptance of Jim is a total defiance of

society. Ironically, Huck believes he is committing a sin by going

against society and protecting Jim. He does not realize that his

own instincts are more morally correct than those of society'.

In chapter sixteen, we see, perhaps, the most inhumane action

of society. Huck meets some men looking for runaway slaves, and so

he fabricates a story about his father on the raft with smallpox.

The men fear catching this disease and instead of rescuing him,

they give him money and advise him not to let it be known of his

father's sickness when seeking help. These men are not hesitant to

hunt slaves, yet they refuse to help a sick man. This is

contrasted to Huck's guilt felt for protecting Jim when he actually

did a morally just action.

Huck's acceptance of his love for Jim is shown in chapter

thirty-one. Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson to return Jim, yet

he ends up ripping the letter and wishes to free Jim. "'All right,

then, I'll go to hell'- and he tore it up." Here, we see that Huck

concludes that he is evil, and that society has been right all


The ending is perhaps most disappointing because it seems as

though through all the situations that it seemed he was growing up

and accepting his innate ideas of right, he hasn't grown at all.

When he is re- united with Tom, he once again thinks of Jim as

property(get quote).

(write conclusion). Huck functions as a much nobler person

when he is not confined by the hypocrisies of civilization.