Compassion versus conscience, freedom versus slavery, and morality versus immortality are some of the numerous subjects which spur debate regarding Mark Twain’s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite the novel focusing on Huckleberry Finn and his friend, Jim, escaping from civilization and slavery, many have taken offense stating that it is immoral because of the written dialect. Although The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has continuously faced criticism as an immoral novel, morality and integrity are seen through Huck risking his reputation to save Jim from slaver and uphold what is correct this illustrates the Biblical mandate of standing up for what is right, even if it requires going against one’s society.
Since its publication in 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been widely debated and called a derogatory and unethical novel because of its frequent use of racial slurs. Only a month after its publication, the Concord Library banned the novel stating that all through its pages there is a systematic use of bad grammar and an employment of inelegant expressions,’ and that it was “absolutely immoral in its tone,“. While the word “nigger” is offensive, this was not what Twain hoped to teach his readers. The novel was intended to demonstrate the injustice of slavery and prove that an individual’s community has a great influence on their opinions. This is clearly seen through Huck as he struggles with the idea of helping free Jim from slavery because he was raised to believe that black people were white men’s property. To further the theme regarding the injustice of slavery, Twain wrote about how when Huck was trapped between two conflicting opinions about black people, he chose to rebel against what he had been taught by following his own beliefs and helping Jim become a free man.
By risking his reputation and going against society’s standards to uphold what is right, Huck demonstrates morality and integrity. While it was strange to Huck, he decides that a black man is of the same value as a white man by making statements such as “…I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n. It doesn’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so,”. Laurel Bollinger, author of “Say it, Jim: The Morality of Connection in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” states that “In fact, Twain’s novel is often taught as the text that epitomizes this tradition, with Huck held up as its exemplar: a boy courageous enough to stand against the moral conventions of his society, to risk Hell itself rather than conform to the “sivilizing” process of communities he rejects,”. Huck’s willingness to give up his reputation and “go to hell” further demonstrates his commitment to morality.
Because Huck upholds what is moral, he reflects the Biblical truth of standing up for what is right in the midst of difficult circumstances. Huck decides that it made no difference if people called him a “low down Abolitionist ” because he did what he felt was good. Clea Rees, author of “Reclaiming the Conscience of Huckleberry Finn,” states that “Although Huck fails to recognize them as such, he is, nonetheless, aware of crucial moral reasons to reject slavery,”. Huck’s actions parallel what the Bible teaches in Roman 12:2 which states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,”. Ultimately, by not conforming to the ideas of the people but instead being transformed to uphold his own principles of right and wrong, Huck unconsciously does what is good and pleasing to God.
Although the presence of morality within The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has often been debated, Huck demonstrates morality because he stands up for what he believes is right and is willing to suffer the consequences for his beliefs. Huck’s standard of doing what is virtuous parallels the Biblical truth of upholding what God desires, even if it means going against the norms of their society. Twain’s novel is not unethical but is widely debated because many people focus on the racial slurs and miss the message about the injustice of slavery. Although Huck’s decision may not have been moral by the people’s standards, it did not matter because it was moral by God’s standards. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an ethical novel because it teaches two important lessons: first, that one lives to please God and not man, and second, because society is not always right, it is imperative for one to come to a decision themselves and act upon it.
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