Huck Finn Morals Essay
Essay Preview: Huck Finn Morals Essay
Report this essay
Along the path of self-discovery, challenges constantly present themselves as opportunities to grow intellectually and as a chance to succeed. Often times, the use of personal judgment and self-understanding is necessary in order to overcome these challenges. In Mark Twains The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck experiences difficulties which compel him to use his moral judgment. Huck, a young boy in search of freedom, is accompanied by a runaway slave named Jim as he embarks on a treacherous journey down the Mississippi River. During his adventure, Huck must determine the fate of the runaway slave. However, as his relationship with the slave deepens, he comes to realize this task is far from simple. Huck faces this life-defining yet complicated situation as he must choose between societys pre-defined standards and his conscience. As demonstrated in the escape to freedom of the runaway slave Jim, Galileos opposition to the Churchs beliefs, and a soldiers animosity to fight, society influences individuals to the extent that they experience conflict between societal conformity and individuality.
Throughout Twains Huckleberry Finn, Huck struggles to follow his moral conscience for fear of abandoning the societal values that he had been taught to abide by. When he first travels with Jim along the Mississippi River, he considers it a sin to help an escaped slave because he is breaking the laws of Southern society. While contemplating his ethical conflict he is reminded of Miss Watson, his pessimistic caretaker and Jims owner. Huck asks himself, “What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you that you could treat her so mean?” (Twain 88). Even though Huck feels that Jim deserves to live freely, Huck is apprehensive toward assisting him because he fears violating societal principles and treating Miss Watson disrespectfully. Nevertheless, Huck defies the conventional beliefs by illegally engaging in Jims journey to freedom, thus he instinctively follows his sense of what is ethically correct and learns to live by his standards. Although he predicts society will deem him to be “a low down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum,” he prefers to be shunned and to risk punishment and shame for the sake of freeing Jim (Twain 43). Clearly, Hucks fondness for Jim is evident when Huck intends to send a letter to Miss Watson returning Jim but chooses to rip it to save him instead. Huck responds, “Ill right, then, Ill go to hell- and he tore it up” (Twain 214). Huck accepts his rebellious nature and terrible fate to hell as he escapes from civilized society and into a place driven by his instincts. Jims desire for freedom puts Huck in a moral dilemma because he must decide whether to follow his innate sense of morality or the restrictive guidelines of society.
Similar to Hucks willingness to face punishment for illegal activity and nonconformity, Galileo went against the Catholic Churchs beliefs and declared that the Earth went around the Sun. An Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei invented the telescope in 1609 and his observations supported Copernicus theory that all planets revolved around the Sun. However, Galileos belief faced much opposition as it did not follow the ideas of the Church, which had monumental influence on society at that time. This indeed set the scene for an individuals clash with the ideals of society. Although Galileo did not want to instigate conflict, he could not bear accepting a false notion. Thus, he was willing to face the severe consequences of his resistance to societal conformity. Ending his moral struggle, Galileo believed his own values transcended his loyalty to the Church. As a result of his contradiction to the Churchs astronomical belief, his individuality was suppressed, he was charged with heresy, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Church refused to believe Galileos hypothesis yet Galileo was convinced it was true, which eventually led to his moral dispute.
In the same way that Galileo conflicted with much of society, a drafted soldier named Tim O Brien is uncertain whether to fight in a war that, in doing so, would go entirely against his morals. Written by Tim O Brien, The Things They Carried is a fictional novel that depicts the troubling experiences of U.S. soldiers while fighting in the Vietnam War in 1969. In the chapter entitled “On the Rainy River,” it focuses particularly on a young man named Tim O Brien and his reactions when receiving a draft notice to serve in the army. Like thousands of others, Tim undergoes a conflict of moral responsibility. He is morally opposed to the idea of murder and violence,