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Essay/Term paper: The adventures of huckleberry finn

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities Essays

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While there are many themes expressed in the
novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
one makes a stronger presence by its continued,
if not redundant display of itself. Far too often in
society people's lack of knowledge on a given
subject causes their opinions and actions to rely
strictly on stereotypes created by the masses.
This affliction is commonly known as ignorance.
This is curable but people have to become
open-minded and leave their reliance on society's
viewpoints behind them. In the novel, The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain,
the ignorance of society becomes extremely
evident at many parts of the book. Society forms
ideals for all walks of life and then lets them
become like stone in their minds. Thus, once a
person has been put into a group they will remain
there forever. The ignorance of society is clearly
seen when one looks at Huck Finn, Jim the
Slave, Pap, and the senseless violence of the
Grangerfords and the Shepardsons.



Many people see Huckleberry Finn as a
mischievous boy who is a bad influence to
others. Society refuses to accept Huck as he is
and isn"t going to change its opinions about him
until he was reformed and civilized. The Widow
Douglas and Miss Watson try to "sivilize" Huck
by making stop all of his habits such as smoking,
etc. They try to reverse all of his teaching from
the first twelve years of his life and force him to
become their stereotypical good boy. The rest of
the town also refused to view him as good until
they received visual proof of this. Until then, he
will be viewed as someone undesirable. The only
time that the town's people are able to put away
their views of Huck was when there was
excitement to be found, like when they all
crowded on the steamboat to see if the cannons
can bring Huck's body to the surface. Everyone
got interested in him and tried to show that they
cared about him, but this is only after he is
presumed dead. They take on these views to
follow society in its ignorance. Few of them
would have cared about Huck before because
they didn't know him and didn't want to know
him, but since taking interest in mysteries was the
popular thing to do, society did it. Although Huck
is viewed in an ignorant light, he was also in
accordance with this novel and very ignorant
himself. Huck said "I thought it all out, and
reckoned I would belong to the widow if he
wanted me, though I couldn"t make out how he
was a-going to be any better off then than what
he was before, seeing I was so ignorant, and so
kind of low-down and ornery." Huck talks about
Pap with some disgust and disregard. While
Huck is not completely afraid of him in this quote
as he later becomes, he still does not show
respect for his father. The following is a good
representation of what Huck does and does not
understand. "I studied a minute, sort of holding
my breath, and then says to myself: "All right,
then, I"ll go to hell"--and tore it up." Huck wrote
a letter to Miss Watson but tore it up. He decided
that he would go to hell for Jim. Another good
example is when Huck was having problems with
Jim wanting his children back. "...[Jim] would
steal his children -- children that belonged to a
man... a man that hadn"t ever done me no
harm." This quote shows that Huck is still
troubled by helping Jim and that he still does not
yet understand that Jim is just as human as those
people who own his children. This shows a stage
in his growth in understanding about slavery and
Jim.

Society once again set the stereotypes in another
section of the book by their feelings toward Jim
and Pap. Society automatically sees a black
person, and even further, slaves, as inferior.
They never thought of slaves as human beings,
only as property. A slave, such as Jim, could be
the nicest, most caring person you have ever
met, but since he is a slave he would be
presumed incapable of such things. While society
is doing this it will let a person whom is as evil as
Pap go on without question. Society's ignorance
shines radiantly once again. They have the
knowledge that Jim is a slave but make no
judgments on his personality. This is shown
when they assume that Jim killed Huck just
because he ran away near the time of Huck's
death. They don't consider the motives of such
an action, but just look at the surface facts that
he might do this because he is savage, missing,
and possibly in the area at the time. Pap is also
suspected, but not as much as Jim even though
he has a motive, and could have easily
committed such an evil deed in one of his
drunken stupors. Society, because of their lack of
knowledge of the personality of Jim,
automatically assumes that he is the one that
committed the murder. Society makes superficial
accusations because it doesn't know what has
really happened or of the true feelings of the two
suspects. Again, society isn"t the only ignorant
party. Jim is awfully ignorant, and if you search
for proof you need to look no further than any
direct quote in which he is speaking. "What's de
use er makin' up de camp fire to cook strawbries
en sich truck? But you got a gun, hain't you?
Den we kin git sumfn better den strawbries."
(When I typed this out it drove my spell check
crazy!)

In another part of the novel the Twain illustrates
the ignorance of society very well with the feud
between the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons.
When Buck Grangerford was questioned about
why he shot at Harvey Shepardson he first
exclaims in disbelief that Huck doesn't know
what a feud was, and says "Why, nothing -- only
it's on account of the feud." Then, however, he
doesn't know why the two families are feuding in
the first place and hasn't made any effort to find
out. It is remarkable that people will continue on
an old grudge without knowing how it originated.
On top of that, they won't make any attempts to
gain knowledge about the subject. Buck, in this
fragment of the novel, represents how society
often bases its actions on what it has been told by
others without questioning the motives. When
Buck was asked when the feud was started, he
told Huck that he didn"t know, but replied,
"Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon, and some of the
other old people; but they don't know now what
the row was about in the first place." Without
true knowledge of why the feud is occurring one
might wonder how people could continue on with
the killing. It may seem bizarre, but so are many
of the other actions of society.

When a large group of people takes one
viewpoint others are often forced into this
mentality even if they are more enlightened.
People can oppress others into conditions by
forcing their incorrect views on them. They often
will not allow people to rise through the ranks
without blatant proof of improvement. The
oblivious members of society who only consider
the surface instead of looking deep for true
knowledge can falsely accuse people. Society
constantly judges people based on stereotypes of
a certain group and it often fails to consider the
personality of an individual. Society takes action
without being properly informed or will take up
arms against opposing groups just because
someone who it respects has blindly told them to.
The ignorance of Society constantly causes
people, issues, and views to be regarded in
adverse ways.
 

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