Did Huck Grow?
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn is able to push past the influence of society to form a meaningful bond with Jim. Unfortunately, although he truly does care for Jim, society still has a stranglehold on Huck’s views of the black race. Throughout the novel, Huck is in a constant inner turmoil of what he experiences to be true and what he has been told to be true. The best example of Huck’s inability to truly break free from society’s influences is when he says, “I knowed he was white inside” (424), when referring to Jim. While he loves Jim, he still equates the black race as inferior. In order for Jim to be good, he must be white on the inside. Even when Huck finally decides to free Jim from slavery, he truly believes that he is doing an immoral deed. He feels as if he is wronging the widow, and does not ever truly consider that owning a man is the actual sin.
Throughout the novel, even as Huck is forming a deep relationship with Jim, he is constantly making comments that reveal how he believes that blacks are not really people. When talking about how shameful something is, he says, “If ever I stuck anything like it, I’m a [n-word]. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race” (251). Or when asked if anyone was killed on the steamboat, he says, “No’m. Killed a [n-word]” (341), as if the life of black is of no consequence. Huck never questions the rules of society. He never thinks that maybe blacks are just as worthy as whites. For Huck, Jim is an anomaly. Huck is astonished to find that Jim actually feels for his family, saying, “and I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folds does for ther’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so” (239). Even faced with the facts that Jim is essentially the same as any white man, he never allows his conclusions to bleed into his thoughts on the blacks as a race.
Huck’s inability to completely break free from the rule of society shows the power that society as on people, especially young minds. During a particularly striking scene, Huck notes that the “little white children, acting the same way the little [n-word]s was doing” (340). Yet he never registers the underlying meaning of his observation. Although in many ways Huck is unable to completely change is views, he does grow in the sense that he is able to make his own decisions. When he is contemplating turning Jim into the authorities, he thinks of all the good that Jim has done. He is able to value Jim based on his own experiences. Huck is able to keep an open mind in his judgment of Jim. It is also interesting to note that when Huck and Jim are alone on the river, it is as though the constricts of society have no influence. It is only when they reenter society, whether it be a town or just the addition of another person, that Huck allows the views of society to influence him.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Penguin Group: New York, 2008. Print.