Submitted by Anonymous on 01/01/1999 01:00 AM Flag This PaperJoin Now
Huck Finn and Civilization
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is at once both a defense of nature and instinct, and an attack on the many corrupt institutions of society. By telling the story from the point of view of a young child, Mark Twain is able to address many social taboos that would otherwise be considered inappropriate. The world looks very different through Huck’s eyes, as the reader comes to understand what it was like to live as a white Southerner before the Civil War.
Huck is happiest when he manages to escape from the trappings of society. He often laments Miss Watson’s attempts to “sivilise” him, which he finds restrictive and uncomfortable. He resents not being able to cuss as often as he likes, not being able to smoke in the house, having to wear silly clothes. When his father kidnaps him, Huck finds it a pleasant change. Although living with his father is not agreeable by any stretch of the imagination, Huck still prefers the rough and tumble style of a cabin in the woods to the tame one he left behind in St. Petersburg. After escaping from his father, however, is when Huck truly reverts to his natural state. On the river, he has the freedom to do whatever he chooses and to go wherever he would like. He abandons his clothes because he finds being naked to be more comfortable, and there is no one to stop him. He must fend for himself. There is no one to feed or take care of him, and he does not mind a bit.
Huck’s natural instincts are apparent in his many close shaves with authority figures. He does not make plans before attempting risky maneuvers. Rather, he prefers to “trust it to Providence” (p. 290). He trusts that his natural instinct will lead him to take the right course of action, and it invariably does. His ability to make up stories on the spot is astounding, and a testament to his history of getting into trouble. Huck approaches problems in a way that is very different to Tom Sawyer, who has been...