This is an essay on the book Huckleberry Finn. It talks about how Huck changes throughout the entire book and also about his relationships with other people.
Have you ever noticed how drastically people change over time? Everyone has to change at some point in their life so that they can mature and learn to live on their own. Huck changes a tremendous amount throughout the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn written by Mark Twain. Huck transforms from someone who relies on everyone else to a self-dependant young man. The most important ways that Huck develops is how he respects Jim, how he changes as he gets to know all of the families, and the way he interacts with Tom throughout the novel.
The first way that Huck develops is how he slowly starts to see Jim as a real person. In the beginning of the novel Huck hardly respects Jim at all. At first Huck and Tom play tricks on Jim and make Jim think that witches had taken him. Huck doesn’t really see it as being rude to Jim at all considering he is a slave. Huck thinks of Jim as being inhuman and does not see a reason to treat him like a regular person. This is how Huck behaves until he runs into Jim on Jackson Island. As Keith Nielson says, “When Huck is thrown together with Jim on Jackson Island he – and the reader – is forced to deal with Jim as a human being” (Nielson “Afterword” 297). This brings Jim and Huck closer together. When Huck finds out that Jim has run away from Miss Watson he wants to do the “right” thing and turn Jim in to Miss Watson. But Huck keeps his promise to Jim and does not tell on Jim. Huck says, “Well, I did. I said I wouldn’t, and I’ll stick to it. Honest injun, I will. People would call me a low-down Abolitionist and despise me for keeping mum–but that don’t make no difference. I ain’t a-going to tell, and I ain’t a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le’s know all about it” (Twain 50). They have many adventures together in which Huck has a conflict, even though this was one of the many times that Huck shows some respect towards Jim. There are numerous events when Huck is slowly figuring out that Jim is an actual human being.
One of the instances that Huck realizes that Jim is a human being is when he put a snake skin into Jim’s bed. After Huck did this a snake that was alive crawled into Jim’s bed and that snake bit Jim. When Huck saw that pain that Jim was in he understood that Jim felt pain just like a white man would. After Jim had been bitten,
Jim sucked and sucked at the jug (of pap’s whiskey), and now and then he got out of his head and pitched around and yelled; but every time he come to himself he went sucking at the jug again. His foot swelled up pretty big, and so did his leg; but by and by the drunk begun to come, and so I judged he was all right; but I’d druther been bit with a snake than pap’s whisky. (Twain 40).
Another time during this story that Huck is amazed at how Jim reacts is when Huck tries to trick Jim into thinking that he had been asleep and dreamt that Huck had been separated from him. Huck did not count on Jim being smart enough to notice all the trash on the raft from the fog and storm. When Jim did figure out that Huck had lied to him he felt like his best friend had betrayed him. Huck then found out that Jim had feelings just like a white man too. Huck said, “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a n—–; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward, neither” (Twain 86). All throughout the entire novel are times when Huck knows that Jim is a human, but it is extremely hard for him to tell himself that because it goes against everything that anyone has ever told him in his whole life. Nielson agrees by saying, “So gradually, over the course of the novel, Jim’s individuality and humanity are developed…” (Nielson “Afterword” 297). The main point is that at the end of the book Huck sees Jim as human, but he is not sure if he is equal to a white man just yet.
The second way that Huck develops is how he changes as he gets to know all the families. The first family that he meets and stays with is the Grangerfords. When he first meets the Grangerfords and how he lets them care for him. Buck did not like it when Widow Douglas tried to care for him and make him look presentable, but it was different for Huck when he was with the Grangerfords. Huck seems to enjoy his time with the Grangerfords. He is impressed by the family’s continuous attachment to their deceased daughter, Emmeline. Huck explains, “Everybody was sorry she died…” (Twain 101). Huck is also with the Grangerfords when they all are killed by the Shepherdsons including Huck’s close friend Buck. Huck grows as a person when Buck dies. Huck was extremely hurt and said, “I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me” (Twain 100). Huck had never lost anyone before and it helps him become conscious of the fact that life could end just as quickly as it began. He grows up a great deal when Buck passes away and it helps his to deal with other hard times throughout the story. His time with the Grangerfords helped better prepare him for the life of the Wilks family.
When Huck is with the Wilkes family he grows in a couple of different ways. The first way is that Huck figures out that lying and deceiving people is not always the right thing to do. He figures this out when he realizes that the king and the duke are scamming all of the money out of the Wilks girls. Huck decides to do the right thing and tell Mary Jane. He says, “These uncles of yourn ain’t no uncles at all; they’re a couple a frauds – regular deadbeats” (Twain 187). Huck also does the right thing when he steals the money back from the king and the duke. Huck says to himself, “I felt so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind’s made up; I’ll hive that money for them or bust” (Twain 175). Huck learns many important lessons while he is with the families within this novel and these lessons impact his life in a tremendous way.
The last way that the reader can see Huck developing is through how he interacts with Tom throughout the novel. At first Huck does anything Tom asks without asking any questions. This was also observed by Neilson. “Huck initially goes along with Tom because his fantasy games offer the only adventure in town” (Neilson “Preface” xii). In the beginning Huck never really does anything that will make someone else unhappy. He just seems to want to keep everyone happy and satisfied. Huck shows this when Tom wants to play a trick on Jim. Huck said,
When we was ten foot off Tom whispered to me, and wanted to tie Jim to the tree for fun. But I said no; he might wake and make a disturbance, and then they’d find out I warn’t in. […] I was in a sweat to get away; but nothing would do Tom but he must crawl to where Jim was, on his hands and knees and play something on him. […] Tom said he slipped Jim’s hat off of his head and hung it on a limb right over him, and Jim stirred a little, but he didn’t wake. (Twain 6).
Tom and Huck get along very well considering that Tom is very stubborn and likes to get his way and Huck is extremely passive. Walter Blair’s explanation is much better when he says, “Tom’s skimpy knowledge and his pedantic acceptance of books as authorities as contrasted with Huck’s ignorance, his respect for Tom’s learning, and his common sense…” (Blair 437). Even though Tom and Huck are opposites they seem to complete each other in a way. When Huck starts to change and develop as his own person Tom does not seem used to this, and he does not seem too fond of Huck standing up to him. This is what had happened towards the end of the book.
When Huck had gotten to Aunt Sally’s house when he was trying to get Jim back he was a completely different person than when Tom knew him before. This Huck was compassionate and cared about an overabundance of objects and morals that he had not cared about earlier, including Jim. Tom was shocked and was also not used to Huck having his own ideas about how to do things. Huck also had figured out that all Tom ever wanted was an adventure and he did not care about the safety of anyone. Tom showcases this when he says,
You got to invent all the difficulties. Well, we can’t help it; we got to do the best we can with the materials we’ve got. Anyhow, there’s one thing—there’s more honor in getting him out through a lot of difficulties and dangers, where there warn’t one of them furnished to you by the people who it was their duty to furnish them, and you had to contrive them all out of your own head. (Twain 303).
Huck would have gone for this spiel that Tom had given if he had not have gone through everything on the river. Huck would have just gone along with whatever Tom cooked up and never said a word. “That is the key to Huck’s behavior. Unlike Tom Sawyer, who it always in motion and trying to manipulate the people and things around him, Huck is basically passive (Neilson “Preface” xii). This was the most important characteristic developed in Huck. Now he knows how to stand up to Tom and give his own input about important decisions. He is now his own person and does not need to rely on other people, especially Tom. Huck is a completely new person and he hopefully will never go back to his old ways.
Huck has changed quite a bit in a plethora of ways during his journey along the river. He started out as a submissive little boy and transformed into a slightly back-boned individual. Huck also learns to respect Jim, and thinks of Jim as being human. He furthermore changes while he gets to know each of the families in the novel. But the last and one of the most important ways that Huck advances is how he interacts with Jim.