Huckleberry Finn Morality

Topics: Virtue Ethics

The folllowing sample essay on Huckleberry Finn Morality discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.

However, in Twain’s novel, those of lower social status are the ones who actually become closer to moral truth ND behave In a manner reflecting a high standard of morality, as demonstrated through Hack. Hack is an “ignorant village boy” (309), and he represents the ambiguity in societal moral truth.

It is Husks distance from an elevated position in society, which allows him to discover his own Integrity and moral truth. Through his adventures, his world is widened and he is freed from the narrow lens of “truth” that society has forced upon him, emerging from a “civilized” boy to become a young man headed toward a life of virtue.

Husks father, Pap, despite being uneducated and of the lower social strata myself, enforces slavery as a traditional value of society.

Pap says, “…. When they told me there was a State In the country where they’d let that Niger vote, I drawer out. I says Ill never vote again” (37). Pap does not believe in the advancement of slaves and faults the government for allowing them to do so. Pap tries to enforce his skewed sense on Hack. But Hack demonstrates that his father’s opinions are not his own through his quest for freedom with Jim on the Mississippi River.

The Huckleberry Quest

Hack identifies himself with Jim in a crucial moment saying, “they’re after us! ” (73).

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The use of the word “us” Is so important because It puts Hack on the same team as Jim. Something his father, and the majority of society, would frown upon. As they make their way down the river, Hack and Jim are removed from the society that would normally condemn, If not completely restrict, their friendship. However, Hack Is not completely freed from the “truth” society has imposed on him about black people because he says, “he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head, for a Niger” (88).

The addition of the phrase “for a Ruggeri” shows that Hack Is still somewhat bound by he ideology of the upper class because it implies that most any other black person would not have the same “uncommon level head” that Jim has. Despite this, Hack does not think not to Identify himself with Jim, pointing to a progressive view that his father (and others) so strongly opposed. Since Pap is the town drunkard and so uneducated himself, he strongly opposes Hack getting an education. When he returns after an absence to try to collect money he heard Hack has received, he says, “You’re educated too, they say; can read and write.

You think you’re better than your father now, don’t you, because he can’t? ” (29). Because he Is so Inferior In the eyes of society, he Is power hungry to have control over Hack. Ultimately though, despite what might come off towards the reader as negative intentions, it is Pap’s power hungriness that saves Hack from the moral corruptness AT society Despite the moral forwardness that Hack displays on the raft, Twain is adamant upon showing that Hack cannot completely disregard the limitations society has forced upon him. At the beginning of the novel, Hack outlines Pap’s views on stealing rears the widows views on stealing.

He says, “Pap always said it warrant no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime; but the widow said it warrant anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it” (76). This passage becomes important when Hack is on the river with Jim and he begins to realize that according to society and the widow Douglas, his attempt at helping Jim is in actuality stealing, which is wrong. He says, “l begun to get it through my head that he was most free?and who was to blame for it? Why, me. I couldn’t get that out of my omniscience” (100).

Here, Jim reverts to the widows definition of stealing, and since the widow represents moral goodness in society, Hack believes her way of thinking is better and smarter than Pap’s. Hack is committing a double crime according to society, because he is helping Jim escape to freedom, which will enable Jim to hire an abolitionist to take back his children, which were wrongfully taken from him by the laws of slavery. Husks failure to acknowledge what he is doing is really the morally right thing shows the limitations which society has bound to him.

Though Hack is ailing to realize his intentions differentiate him from the rest of society, it is important to note that once again, as he is separated from society, only then does guilt enter Husks conscience. Guilt in this sense is somewhat of a socially constructed device, and in this instance Husks seclusion from society is what causes to notice the disparity with his conscience. Hack experiences a sort of moral interruption when he is separated from Jim in an accident involving their raft and a steamboat.

Hack ends up finding Shelter with the Exaggerators, a family with a long-standing feud with the Shepherdess family. These two families reflect the moral decay of high society because while they have the respect of the rest of society, the families lack compassion and logic of humanity. Despite not being educated and of the same class as the Exaggerators and Sheepherder’s, Hack has enough sense to recognize the triviality of the feud and not engage in reckless murder. This instance pressures Husks moral principles, but he chooses humanity over social propriety, which accelerates his moral development.

Hack is glad to return to raft with Jim and to “feel mighty free and easy and enforceable on a raft” (128). Once on the raft, he is again distanced from the stresses of society. If Husks interaction with the Grandfather and Sheepherder’s serves as a sort of moral intervention, his encounter with the duke and the king can be viewed as a moral disruption. The duke and the king have three things on Hack that society has said make them closer to moral truth: they are adult white men. These three things allow them to have power, at least on a social level.

However, though they presume a position close to moral truth, they could not be further from it. As Hack recognizes, heir actions are “enough to make a body ashamed of the human race” (175). (As a side note, Husks use of the phrase “human race” is an acknowledgement, albeit small, that humans are the larger race in general and that specific skin color is not important. The phrase is a uniting one rather than a fragmenting one). Though Hack can see ten King Ana auk Tort won teeny are, nee also Knows teeny nave attenuator over him and so he must be compliant.

He says, “if I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their wan way’ (137). Husks compliant nature has been prescribed upon him by society, and in this instance it serves to delay his moral Journey. The last moral interruption comes in the form of none other than Tom Sawyer. Tom serves as a huge distraction on Husks quest for moral truth because Hack deeply admires Tom and repeatedly asks himself what Tom would do in certain situations. Hack says, “do you reckon Tom Sawyer would ever go by this thing? Not for pie, he wouldn’t.

He’d call it an adventure” (77). One of the reasons Hack looks up to Tom is because Tom comes from a high social status. Because of this elevated position in society, Tom has access to information that Hack does not. For example, he knows that Jim is already a freed man but fails to inform Hack. Instead, Tom wants to (re)free Jim simply for “the adventure of it” (303). In this instance, Tom uses his access to information to warp the truth, thereby bringing Hack down with him. Not only is Hack unable to see outside his admiration for Tom, in this moment Tom mimics the actions of the duke and the king by omitting the truth.

Tom acts accordingly to the values that have been bestowed upon him by society, which opposed brings him closer to moral truth but in actuality sets him further from it, and this gets in the way of Husks moral development. When Hack is truly alone, he freely decides his own moral position. He says, “all right then, I’ll go to hell…. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog” (228). There are two important things that happen in this passage.

First, because Hack has been taught by society to obey rules despite their flaws and despite what he thinks is morally right, “anything worse” that he could think up would in reality be the morally right thing to do. He has no awareness of his own virtue in this passage because his moral capacity only extends as far as the inversion of the social convention. His pledge to go to hell and save Jim is actually a moral and virtuous action. In the same way Hack didn’t think not to unite himself with Jim in calling out “us,” Hack chooses not to act in the way society has declared morally acceptable.

In this way Hack becomes closer to moral truth. Only when he is removed from the social convention, however inverted it may be, is Hack able to discover what true morality means. Husks relationship with Tom proves that even someone without malicious intentions is capable of corruption. This is the essence of moral truth?none of the characters who are considered morally good and right, I. E. The widow, Tom, etc. , intend to separate Hack from obtaining moral truth. Rather, these characters are simply acting in compliance with what has been taught to them by society.

The more Hack distances himself from the direct influence of society, the higher the moral tankard he is able to set for himself. Though Hack has a newfound sense of morality, he is unable to fulfill his intentions due to the series of interruptions he faces. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, social authority serves to stall and/or repress the progression of Husks moral development. And so, Hack makes the decision not to return and become “civilized” but to travel alone again, where he can make Nils own echelons Ana progress. He says, “Aunt sally sine’s going to adopt me and civilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before” (307).

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Huckleberry Finn Morality. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Huckleberry Finn Morality
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