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Essay/Term paper: Huck finn's conflict with society

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Huckleberry Finn

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Huck Finn's Conflict with Society

Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1883. The novel deals with many problems of society. Huck Finn "can't stand" hypocrisy, greed and "sivilz"ation, qualities that are still present today.
One trait shown in Huck Finn is hypocrisy. In Twain's other novels, as well as Huck Finn, Twain is very critical of the hypocrisy of organized religion. Early in Huck Finn, Huck is confronted with two different versions of heaven. Miss Watson's view of heaven is not appealing to Huck. In her heaven, all that one does is sing and play the harp. Huck does not like Widow Douglas' much either, but it is better than Miss Watson's. Huck would rather be free to do as he pleases. Slavery is also hypocritical with Christianity. Slave owners would make slaves believe that God loves all people, which is contrary to the belief that slaves are inferior. The southern view of gentlemen is also hypocritical. These "gentlemen" are supposed to be noble, yet they own slaves and kill each other. They take part in feuds, even when they cannot remember the cause. They kill each other in duels for no reason, but say that it was in the name of honor. All of this hypocrisy makes Huck want to rebel against this society.
Hypocrisy is still present in society today. There are many reported cases of clergy having affairs or molesting children. For instance, Reverend Baker has had relationships with prostitutes. He always apologizes, but then he does it again. One of the precepts of the Catholic religion is to follow the instructions of the Pope. Many Catholics however, do not follow the Pope's instructions on birth control or abortion. Government officials are also hypocritical. They preach family values, yet often they do not follow these values. Senator Packwood resigned from the Senate for his actions. Dick Morris lost his job and his respect over an affair with a prostitute. Most aspects of today's society involve hypocrisy.
Another trait that Huck hates is greed. He is kidnaped by his greedy, alcoholic father. Huck's father beats him for his money when Huck's wealth is discovered. While on the Mississippi, Huck and Jim come across a boat full of thieves. They are so greedy that they conspire to kill an associate to get his money. Their boat sinks and they die before they can kill their associate. Huck could have saved them, but does not. Later, Huck meets the King and the Duke. They are "con artists." They swindle innocent people out of money. They pretend to be other people or sell people imaginary items to get their money. They even sell Jim when they need money. Huck cannot forgive them for that. Everywhere Huck goes, he sees greedy people. Huck's dislike of greedy people makes him want to start his own society.
Greed is probably more evident today than it was in Twain's time. Professional athletes make obscenely high amounts of money. They are also always asking for more money and fewer restrictions in their contracts. In August 1995, the Major League Baseball Players Association went on strike. They were protesting the owners' policy on the salary cap and restricted free agency. Players already made hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a year. They got greedy. They thought only of their already inflated paychecks rather than the many people whose job was dependent on baseball. The legal system is involved in greed. Lawyers make huge sums of money. Many lawsuits and settlements, many of them frivolous, are for too much money. A woman who spilled coffee on her lap won millions of dollars. The Goldman family won 8.5 million dollars on a wrongful death suit against O.J. Simpson. Usually the decision for a wrongful death suit is between fifty and a hundred thousand dollars. The Goldmans won so much simply because of the high profile of the case. Greed is a trait that will continue to multiply if society does not change.
Huck "can't stand" "sivilz"ation either. Miss Watson and Widow Douglas are constantly telling Huck what to do and when to do it. They make him use a spelling book, and would not let him smoke. Huck is forced to conform to their views and beliefs. He does not like to be reformed. Huck is happier without their rules, religion, and restrictions.
Today the government tries to reform people. The government forces children to go to school, where they are taught the way that they are expected to behave. The government also restricts people's freedom to drink, smoke, and have weapons. This is to society's benefit, since those products are dangerous, but what about restrictions on other materials? Certain books and magazines that are deemed anti government or obscene are restricted. In general, attempts to civilize or reform people are for the good of society, but they often restrict personal freedom.
Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn deals with many problems of society. These problems are still relevant today and will continue to be so.
 

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