Huck Finn Passage Analysis
Essay Preview: Huck Finn Passage Analysis
Report this essay
Huckleberry Finn: Passage pg. 283 – 284
Mark Twains novel Huckleberry Finn is a blatant concoction of religious bias and varied notions on the role of religion. Satirical characters and the obvious use of sarcastic ideals in regards to the religious situations within the novel allowed Twain to address the issue on so many different levels. Huckleberry Finn is introduced, as being a religious character, as he looks to pray and reflect on virtues of right and wrong as dictated by those religious beliefs for which he has been taught. However, on many different levels he acknowledges a lack of belief in a greater being. Hucks faith quandary was introduced early in the novel as he reflects on the situation when “She took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I would get it. But it warnt so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warnt any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldnt make it work (pg.14).” Somehow, he couldnt make it work; it warnt so, at least not for him, praying just was not all it had cracked up to be for Huck. In fact, Huck continuously questions his personal motivations and beliefs throughout the novel. His journey is driven by the winding river and flowing shores that he and Jim linger past and wander upon and it is in the selected passage, that Hucks struggle of right and wrong, his religious ideals and his moral obligations come to blow. Mark Twain uses satire and irony throughout his work to convey his distain for religion, as exemplified by this passage.
“So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didnt know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, Ill go and write the letter — and then see if I can pray.” Hucks insinuation that he may be able to pray once he frees himself of his trouble is in itself satirical, it is as if he deems that being “trouble free” is what makes praying, not only possible but more effective. This notion belittles the entire concept of prayer which when interpreted by the Bible says that the Holy Spirit takes our words and makes them acceptable to The Father and it is our Father that is our interpreter. Thus prayer is a form of faith in itself, a link to the divine, not a reward for an act that is thought to be of divine spirit. Twains use of prayer as a goal to be achieved presents an image of false understanding by Huck, of twisted ideals that had been passed down to him from “sivil” society, but yet still thwarted by misguidance. It is this misguidance that Huck fails to recognize. The satirical statement by Huck about “how near I come to being lost and going to hell,” clearly distorts the notion of hell, making the extreme seem common and ordinary. The idea that being lost in itself meets the criteria for condemnation is an absurd interpretation of religion, as those lost can once again be found. However it is Twains use of satirical references that allude to Hucks changing ideals and also allow for the underwritten ideals behind those changes.
The true change comes however, with a hint of irony. As Huck finishes writing his letter, which made him, feel so free, he begins to reminisce about the journey he has had thus far with Jim. He recalls that he “couldnt seem to strike no places to harden. . . against him.” Huck could not find any means or reasons to “punish” Jim for being anything less then a friend and declares that “All right, then, Ill go to hell” and he precedes to tear up the letter. Hucks view of the situation of right versus wrong and hell versus heaven being so definitive, is an irony of incongruity and an incongruous idea. It links back to the application of extreme results for mild aversions. Hucks failed understanding is once again drawn upon, as Twain looks to explicate once again the faults of the knowledge that he has been given, but this is the true turning point for Huck. As he begins to see past his religious understanding, as much of an understanding as it can be deemed, and sees a sense of morality, though he does not see the situation of morality versus religion. It is the idea that morality contradicts religion that further illuminates the religious irony within the passage. The idea that morality is a realm outside of religion is a contradiction to basic understanding. As typically speaking morality is linked to a basic fear of wrath, judgment, or final descent. It is a notion, that is most commonly drawn from ones religious beliefs, thus, Hucks idea that the moral bound decision to help Jim is a contradiction to his religious beliefs, is profoundly adsorb. The irony of the situation also lies in the fact that even by helping Jim, Huck would be following the religious path as defined earlier within the novel, as Miss Watson guides