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Summary: Huck Finn’s Maturity Through the Novel

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Life is a journey and one never knows where they are going to go. People have a lot of adventures in their lifetime that steer them down the river of life. Robert Frost wrote a poem called, The Road Not Taken. This is significant because the traveler took the road that was less popular and it made all the difference in his life. Huckleberry Finn is a traveler. Huck’s adventures helped him mature, gain morality, and build values. Huck Finn in Mark Twain’s book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was transformed with three profound life changes. Huck has a growing friendship with Jim, a black escaped slave. He recognizes that the civilized world isn’t so civilized when he learns about the Grangerford feud. Lastly, his views of slavery and race change when he decides to rip up the letter, he was writing to Ms. Watson.

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Throughout the novel Huck builds a friendship with Jim. Jim is a runaway slave. The friendship begins when Huck finds Jim on Jackson’s Island. Huck was running away from Pap, where as Jim was running away from my Ms. Watson. “Well, I warn’t long making him understand I warn’t dead. I was ever so glad to see Jim. I warn’t lonesome now. I told him I warn’t afraid of HIM telling the people where I was. I talked along, but he only set there and looked at me; never said nothing.”They’re both escaping their past lives and trying new lives. From this point forward, Huck and Jim’s friendship grows stronger. “Jim, this is nice…I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but here.” At this point in the book, Huck and Jim are having dinner on Jackson’s Island. The night was calm. Huck and Jim are experiencing their new freedom together.

On one of Huck’s adventures, he learns that the civilized world is not so civilized. Huck found himself upon the shore and came upon the Grangerford plantation. The Grangerford’s have a lot of slaves for field work and each family member gets their own slave, including Huck. The family is a wealthy prominent Southern family that wears nicely tailored clothes everyday. They show good manners to each other. They attend Church every Sunday. The Grangerfords looked like the epitome of a civilized society. “When him and the old lady come down in the morning all the family got up out of their chairs and give them good-day, and didn’t set down again till they had set down…….Then Tom and Bob went to the sideboard where the decanter was, and mixed a glass of bitters and handed it to him, and he held it in his hand and waited till Tom’s and Bob’s was mixed, and then they bowed and said, “Our duty to you, sir, and madam;” . Despite their civilized appearance, they were not civilized to the core. The Grangerfords are in a fued with the Sheperdsons. Because of the feud, they have to bring their guns to Church. The guns are for killing Sheperdsons if they get out of line. One morning, Buck and Huck bump into Harney S. Buck takes a shot and hits Harney’s hat. “Did you want to kill him, Buck?” “Well, I bet I did.” “What did he do to you?” “Him? He never done nothing to me.” “Well, then, what did you want to kill him for?” “Why, nothing—only it’s on account of the feud.” “What’s a feud?” “Well,” says Buck, “a feud is this way: A man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills him; then the other brothers, on both sides, goes for one another; then the cousins chip in—and by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud. But it’s kind of slow, and takes a long time.” At the end of this adventure, Huck finds Buck shot dead by the Sheperdsons. Huck feels sad, but happy to get away from the feud. “I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp. We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”  Huck was happy to get away from the civilized Grangerfords and get back to the freedom on the river.

Huck’s views of slavery and racism transform from being pro-slavery to anti-slavery. This transformation was caused through his friendship with Jim. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a slave; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way. This quote shows that Huck is beginning to soften his stance on slavery and his relationships with slaves. Later on when Huck says, “All right then, I’ll go to hell’…and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.”Huck is at a turning point of his transformation. Huck’s conscience is telling him that slavery is wrong and that Jim is a human being. This implies that Huck is looking out for Jim’s safety. This growing friendship makes Huck question whether he should turn Jim in, for a local reward, or to protect him. In the end, he decided to protect Jim.

Huck has matured in a lot of ways. His understanding of friendship, civilization, and racism/slavery changed. Huck’s understanding of friendship changes because Huck and Jim have a bond, where they are always there for each other. His friendship with Jim is different then with Tom and the gang, because Huck and Jim rely on each other for survival. Huck’s understanding of civilization changes because Huck realizes that civilization isn’t completely civilized. He sees a contradiction in the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud. They’re civilized in wealth, material goods, and manners, but barbaric when they kill the Sheperdsons. Lastly, Huck’s view of slavery and racism change because of Huck’s relationship with Jim. In the end, Huck sees Jim as a friend and not someone’s property. Huck built values, gained morality, and matured throughout the novel. 

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