21 January 2014
2nd half of Huck Finn
The first observation I made while reading the second half of Huck Finn was the continued importance of Twain’s literary style and tone. Twain’s fun and energetic children characters allow him to address more serious and—at times—depressing subject matter but in a lighter, more approachable way. This approach lends itself well to reaching a broader audience as well as most effectively getting his intended message across.
In addition I found the duality of Twain’s criticism of our conventional understandings (regarding morality) and his replacement of these conventions to be important. At first, I noticed the ways in which this text promotes the undermining of a higher authority. Specifically, how it works to inspire readers to re-evaluate their moral standings and urges them to question the laws that they may be blindly following. In this sense, our very nation’s judgment is being called into question. However, in taking a closer look, I realized that Twain’s purpose as a writer goes beyond just simply criticizing convention; he reforms it. This alteration is made visible through Huck’s character. Huck’s conflicting attitude toward societally imposed conventions suggests that, as humans, we may possess an inherent moral compass. Specifically, this becomes evident as we see Huck constantly turning inward to consult what seems to be an inner conscience. Huck states, “I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing. . . but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie”(222). Huck is experiencing feelings from (“deep down”) within that eventually lead him to making a morally sound decision. If we accept this notion—that all humans possess a moral compass-- then I believe Twain is suggesting that external influences (i.e. societal influences) are insignificant in our decision making processes. According to Twain, we are no longer obligated to consult the “things” we may have been taught (or not taught) because it is our moral compass that ultimately deciphers (and tells us) what is right from what is wrong.