St. Petersburg-EducationAt St. Petersburg, I believe that Mark Twain is ridiculing education.At the age of twelve, Huckleberry Finn is poorly educated, from books andin the ways of the world.
He knows and learns only what he experiences. Jimalso was uneducated. One could look to this example and say that it wasonly because he was a slave and that society did not permit for slaves tobe educated, but that is to say that the slaves had no one among them whowas educated. This assumption would be false. During this period inhistory, slaves were not permitted to have a formal educated, but a fewlearned black men took it upon themselves to teach the younger generationsall they could obtain. I believe that Jim may have been view as too old tobe taught from books, which is a sad thing indeed.
This may have been thecase with Jim, but what is to explain Huck’s lack of education? For one,Huck was an orphan whose father was a drunk. This in itself would makeobtaining an education an issue, but I think that it was more a lack ofdesire, on Huck’s part. He did not want to be “civilized” and viewededucation as a form of civilization.Pap’s Cabin-Child-Abuse/ Courts and LawsWhen Huck is sent to live with his father, he is beaten and lockedinside the cabin for periods of time. Mark Twain is obviously satirizingchild-abuse, but I think he is more so attributing it to the failure of thecourts. Though his father is clearly not capable of taking care of him, thecourts dictate that Huck is to live with father.
A compassionate WidowDouglas goes to the court to try to take custody of Huck, but is turnedaway because of the belief that one should remain with their naturalfamily. It seems corrupt and unjust that no deliberation was made on thecase; no one looked into the consequences of the decision that was made.Therefore, the courts contributed to Huck’s abuse.
Jackson Island-Poor-TasteThe idea of poor-taste is highlighted by Twain when Huck decides thathe is going to dress up as a girl and sneak back into town to witness thereaction to his disappearance. Poor-taste, or a bad judgment call, seems tolead to acquiring more knowledge than needed. Huck finds out that everyonethinks Jim murdered him (Huck), and from that point on he must try toconceal Jim’s identity as well as his own.
If Huck would have simply foughthis urge to discern the feelings of the town, his escape from civilizationwould have come more easily. Mark Twain does not simply tell the readerthat a judgment made in poor-taste is, in effect, begging to be put throughhardship; he exemplifies this with Huck’s decision to be meddlesome.Sinking Steamboat-Drug AbuseA scene from this section of the novel illustrates the consequencesof drug abuse very well. It opens with Huck and Jim overhearing aconversation as they stand outside the steamboat. Three men are inside, oneman lying on the floor with a gun pointed at him.
It appears that there hasbeen a deal that has gone sour. Mark Twain pokes fun the drug abusers asthey are incapable of being aware of what is going on around them. They areso caught up in their disagreement that they do not notice Huck outside thewindow listening to their conversation. If they had, they would have beenable to prevent him from “ratting them out.” As in any case where drugs areinvolved, their judgment was clouded by a haze of confusion, allowing themto fall victim to a young boy’s curiosity.
Cairo-Racism and BigotryAs they approach Cairo, Huck lets his racist views and narrow-mindedness take hold of him. He lets immaturity rule and plays a trick onJim because he still does not see Jim and a human; he believe of his asmerely a piece of property, incapable of possessing real feelings. Twainshows the reader the effect of racism and bigotry when Jim tells Huck howit saddens him to be treated in such a way.
The overall outcome of racismand bigotry are illustrated the feelings expressed by both Huck and Jim.A second incident of racism and bigotry occurs before the two reachCairo. Jim talks of how he wants to get his child out of slavery also, andit suddenly occurs to Huck that his has done a bad thing in assisting a run-away slave. Upon this realization, Huck determines that he must turn Jim inat once, and starts to head for the shore.
Just as he is about to do so,Jim tells him that he has never had a white man keep a promise and that heis glad that Huck has done so. Upon hearing this, Huck changes his mind.Racism clouded Huck’s mind, and he could not see that Jim deserved to befree and had every right to take custody of his child.Steamboat Crashes into Raft-LiesHuck is put in an uncomfortable position when a skiff comes alongwith two armed slave hunters. He is either to betray Jim or lie.
Huck looksback on his experiences with Jim and decides that it is the mostappropriate thing to lie. He chooses to tell the men that his father is onboard the raft and has smallpox. The slave hunters do leave under thispretense, but Huck could have avoided the lie if he had known that Jim wasin the water hiding from sight of the men.
I believe this is how Twainmocks the idea of lying. It is a matter of conscious. If Huck had knownthat Jim was well concealed from the men, he could have kept his consciousclear and simply told him the truth, that there was no one else on the raftwith him.
Feud-Murder, Feuds, and RevengeI feel this is the most vibrant example of when Mark Twain satirizesa human-flaw in the novel. The Shephardson and Grangerford families areinvolved in a feud. Starting thirty years prior to Huck’s involvement, noone can seem to remember why or how the feud came to be. Twain even goes sofar as to include that the two families attend church service with theirguns between their knees.
The sermon, ironically, is on brotherly love. Arespect for oneself and one’s neighbor is what is taught, but no one seemsto see the degree of the situation at hand.Huck is faced with a harsh reality as he finds out that his friendBuck Grangerford has been murdered, along with the other men of theGrangerford family. This totally disgusts Huck, as does the idea of murderdoes in the eyes of society today.Camp Meeting-Con-artistSeemingly the two greatest con-artists portrayed in Mark Twain’snovel, the Duke and Dauphin represent the artistry at its best, and worse.
These two men are able to weasel their way into Huck and Jim’s life. Theytell Huck and Jim fantastic stories of who they are, making it up as theygo, in the true fashion of a con-artist. Soon they take over as the leadersof the raft. Huck, however, cons them back, with a great tale of how hecame to be on the river.
I believe that Twain is illustrating the ignorancefound in a con-artists mind, because the two greatest con-artists cannotspot Huck’s fib. The Duke and Dauphin continue to deceive as they maketheir way to the next stop, and concoct a plan to keep them from beingcaught. The Duke makes false advertisements describing a reward for thecapture of a run-away slave fitting Jim’s description. By doing this, herids them of worry about being caught, and makes money in the process.Colonel Sherburn Shoots Boggs-Peer Pressure or MobPeer pressure is put upon Colonel Sherburn when Boggs confronts himin front of a crowd of people.
Sherburn might have believed that he had totake action upon the accusations made by Boggs or he would be ridiculed.Sherburn emerges and shoots Boggs in front of the entire crowd and Boggs’own daughter. The crowd is halted by the decision of Colonel Sherburn andsomeone yells out that he should be lynched, thus turning the perplexedcrowd into an angry mob.
The crowd quiets down and Sherburn calls them allcowards. Upon this, the crowd breaks up and disperses. Mark Twain does anexcellent job with showing human-flaw under peer pressure. The contrastbetween what Sherburn believes the crowd expects him to do and the realityof the decision are somewhat clouded, but still discernable. Sherburn actsout of hostility doing what he is expected to by the crowd, and is turnedagainst by the angry mob.Royal Nonesuch Play-Gullible/ Ignorant PeopleIt is important to note that Huck is not a participant in the play,for he is simply and observer. Through him the reader is made aware of theaudience’s ignorance and how gullible they are.
The Duke starts out bybuilding suspense in the minds of the townspeople. The play ensues andcloses with the Duke telling the audience to keep to themselves about thehappenings of the play, giving the reason that they were going to be doinga repeat performance. In this way, Twain shows the reader the degrees towhich someone will go to conceal their identity, fueling themselves withthe ignorance of gullible people.Also, Huck reveals a realization that his ignorance has kept him fromseeing. Jim again talks about his child and Huck can finally see that Jimis human, capable of humane feelings.
This can be noted in the line, “I dobelieve he cared just as much for his people as white folks does fortheir’n.” Twain wanted the reader to know that ignorance could be overcome.Wilks Funeral-AristocratsThe influence of power is proven to be strong in this section of thenovel.
The Duke and Dauphin are nearly able to steal away a fortune bypretending to be the rich brothers of a recently deceased man. Just thethought of these two men having power is enough for them to gain access toall the assets of the deceased and steal away every penny of money that wasrightfully deeded to three innocent young ladies. Mark Twain shows that onedoes not have to be truthful to have respect; it is the sheer intensity ofthe thought of power and money that enables the aristocratic society tomake their impact on the world.
Twain later mocks the aristocratic peopleswhen he reveals that to them that they have been fooled.The Phelps’ Farm-Social ConventionAunt Sally sets a farcical tone in the last section of the story. Sheis known to be a practical joker, but the jokes are soon turned on her.
Twain conveys through her that one must treat others in the fashion that heor she desires to be treated, because it all goes full-circle.As mention of an adventure comes from Jim’s rescue, Jim becomes avictim of Tom’s “social convention.” Tom is incredibly selfish throughoutthe novel and it is proven in the last chapters. When Huck reveals to Tomthat he is going to rescue Jim from his imprisonment, Tom takes charge andplans an outrageous adventure.
Jim is told of the plan, and feels he mustgo along. Tom keeps Jim waiting for over three weeks as he plans theescape. Ironically, however, Jim was already a free man. Twain shows thereader than our personal social conventions can bring harm to others.
Healso illustrates for us what can happen when we fall victim to our ownselfishness when Tom takes a bullet in his shoulder because he wanted tohave a grand adventure.