Many people conform to society’s views or perfection and normalcy. People do this to fit in, go unnoticed or because they lack the courage to go against the social norms. When people do not stand for what they think is morally correct they are often left with an inner conflict of morals. Mark twain writes about the character Huckleberry Finn dealing with this and more. In Mark Twain’s Novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the reader can see Huck morals are put to the test through his inner conflict with society’s norms or the time.
Huck Finn defies many social norms of that time such as religion, murderous acts, and slavery. One morning Mrs. Watson was trying to teach him about the Bible. She was discussing Moses and the Bulrushers when Huck had caught something in her teachings,(2) “By and by she let slip that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn’t care anymore about him, because I don’t take no stock in dead people. “(2) Huck Finn had taken no interest in the Bible after this because he does not take interest in dead people or the past.
Huck likes to look for what is happening now in his life because of this he steps out of society’s norms by rejecting religion and wanting to stay in the present and not look forward or back. Similarly, Huck goes against the norm of murder in this society as well. Huck Finn has encountered many deaths on his small adventure that he now believes that murder has become a normal action to witness. After being separated from jim on the river Huck met the Grangerfords. Huck witnesses the Grangerfords and the Shepherdson’s fued in the short time that he is there.
This small war had been going on for years prior to Huck’s arrival. Huck’s realizes that this is a vile act on humanity because he has morals. (115) After finding his friend dead Huck states, “I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was mighty good to me. ” (115) Huck knows that this is morally wrong and while covering up his deceased acquaintance, he cries. He is stepping out of social norms in two ways in this scene. He is falling out of the traditionally masculine stereotype that men never cry, they are always strong.
He is also seeing that the violence of the feud was never needed. Continuing on his adventure, Huck sees social Norms as a just a hindrance for him to be able to protect the people that cares about. Huck throws caution into the wind when he befriends a slave named Jim. Two men were out looking for runaway slaves on the river when they had run across Huck. Huck could have decided to turn Jim over to them at this point or protect him. He had decided to go against his previous thought of turning Jim in as a runaway slave when he states, “I see I was weakening so I gave up trying and says he’s white. (90)
Huck sees Jim as more than just a simple slave, he sees Jim as a person and a friend. He could have gotten in quite a predicament if Huck would have been caught helping a slave, but he did this anyway to help his friend. Huck had done the morally correct thing of helping Jim but this went completely against the social norms of the time. The social norms that Huck challenges throughout the novel are religion, violence and the poor treatment of blacks with slavery. Another inner conflict Huck has is dealing with frauds. Frauds challenge Huck’s morals by displaying acts of dishonesty, deceit and cruelty.
Huck had met two men running from other people in the woods. Huck had brought them on the raft trying to help them escape when they pronounced that they were royalty. “By rights I am a duke!… My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater”(122) “Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin…. your eyes is lookin’ at this very moment on the pore disappeared Dauphin… son of looy the Sixteen. ” (124) They tried to get money from Huck and Jim. They also go tjim to treat them like real royalty. This was the first time Huck had seen them being dishonest to anyone in the novel.
Continuing on the reader can see the king and the duke get worse and lie more throughout the novel. The king had heard about an inheritance of six thousand dollars for the brothers of a dead man. Huck questions why he is helping them scam innocent people when he steals back the money for the Wilks girls. “But I knowed better. I had it out of there before they was half-way downstairs. ” (178) Huck had stolen the money from the king and the duke because he saw how cruel and deceitful they were being stealing the money from a family who had just lost their father.
The most cruel thing that Huck sees the king and duke do is tie Jim up on the raft so they could travel on the river in the daytime. “Now,’ says the duke,’ after to-night we can run in the daytime if we want to. Whenever we see anybody coming we can tie Jim hand and foot with a rope, and lay him in the wigwam and show this handbill and say we captured him up the river, and were too poor to travel on a steamboat,.. ” They were giving Huck excuses so they could tie Jim up on and travel in the day time.
They didn’t see Jim as a person like Huck did so they treated him like most people would of they time. Huck had see this when they decided to tie him up and leave him. The king and the duke were one of the obstacles that tested Huck’s morals throughout the novel. Huck had realized early on that all the king and the duke were were frauds whose only goal in life was to scam other people for money. The reader can see that the king and the duke represent the dishonesty and cruelty of the time, Huck overcomes his his moral quandary when he decided to do what he believes is the right thing.
Huck overcome and challenges his quandary with slavery by treating the one slave that he knows, Jim, with human decency as he seems fit. Huck had met Jim, a former slave of Miss Watson’s, a couple days into his adventure on the river. He then vows to get Jim to freedom; after this you can see a friend ship start to blossom between the two but Huck is in a quandary about being friends with a slave. Jim was looking forward to Cairo and Huck had promised him that they would get there. While their looking for Cairo Jim states, “Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim. (89) Huck is the only white man that had kept his word for Jim. Huck is also the only white person who has tried to protect him. Huck starts to notice that Jim is a person just like he is. Huck starts to feel more determined to keep his word and get Jim to the safety of freedom. Huck contradicts the social norms of the time by befriending and helping Jim.
Another time Huck treats Jlm with human decence is when he is speaking to Jim about his family that he left up the river. “And I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their n. (155) Huck sees that Jim is just like a white man when he says he misses his family. Huck realizes that slaves are just like white people and maybe even nicer than white people when he here about how Jim misses his family. In this point in the novel Huck had seen white men be more cruel than slaves have ever been to him. Huck challenges slavery by treating the slaves that he meets with human decency and respect versus the social norm of time, using them for their own betterment or fun. The final time Huck strives to treat Jim with human decency is when he is trying to get Jim out of the shack.
Tom wants to help get jim out of the shack but he romanticizes it to an extreme to be more like his books, where as Huck just wants to get his friends to freedom. “Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she was ever going to sell him down the river, and said so; and she set him free in in her will” (290) Polly had explained that the person who owned Jim had died and set him free in her will. Huck is glad to see it when they pronounce that Jim is free. He is able to to break away from society’s social norms and be glad the his friend is free. Jim is just one of the slaves that Huck interacts with.
From his actions with Jim the reader can infer that He would act the same with anyone who treats him with respect. Huck challenges slavery by befriending a slave and treating him as if he was any other man he had met. Huck’s morals were put through the test in the novel from beginning to end. Huck broke out of the form of society by overcoming social norms and his inner conflict of morals. In the end of the novel the reader can come to one conclusion, even though it may take time and courage people can break out of the social norms and do what they think is the right thing.