The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Most people at some point in their lives are involved in a fight. If people go through their whole life without ever being involved in a feud, then they would be considered lucky. For the majority though, feuds are a fact of life. Fights come in all shapes and sizes, some ending as soon as they‟ve started; others carrying on for weeks, possibly years, never ending in a resolution. Because of this people get hurt, whether it be physically or emotionally. Sometimes the damage is minimal, other times it affects people for a lifetime. In Mark Twain‟s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, feuding affects the characters in many ways, including death, betrayal, and changing of grand schemes. As Huck begins his voyage down the great river, he and Jim come across many different people who fought with each other; one of these situations even results in a death that Huck had to deal with. Two such groups are the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords. One young boy named Buck Grangerford has an elaborate story to tell. His family, the Grangerfords, have been feuding with their neighbors, the Sheperdsons, for as long as anyone could remember. In fact, in this conversation, Buck admits to Huck that he really doesn‟t even know why they‟ve been fighting for so long. “”What was the trouble about, Buck? --Land?" “I reckon maybe--I don't know." “Well, who done the shooting? Was it a Grangerford or a Shepherdson?" "Laws, how do I know? It was so long ago."” (Twain 110) Then, while Huck is staying with Buck and his family, something unexpected happens. One of Bucks sisters, Miss Sophia, falls in love with one of the rival Sheperdson‟s sons, Harney, and runs away with him one night. This sparks the bloodiest battle in the history between the two families. While trying to catch the young lovers, the other family members get into a fight, which kills off many of the family members, including Buck. Huck is very affected by Buck‟s death, saying, “I cried a little when I was covering up Buck‟s face, for he was mighty good to me.” (118) Witnessing this Huck learns a lesson about feuds, not all feuds have a happy ending. “…And as they swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and singing out, “Kill them, kill them!” It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree.” (117) Finally, the irony of this feud impacted Huck greatly. According to enotes.com, “The simplest irony for Huck is this: the two families don't know why they are fighting. They've forgotten. Second, the two families arrogantly assert their superiority.”(enotes) Huck had not only witnessed feuds either, he had been caught right in the middle of one between him and his father. His father, Pap as he is called in the book, is a drunk. When he learns of Huck giving his six thousand dollars to Judge Thatcher to keep safe, Pap goes after the money. “Well, pretty soon the old man was up and around again, and then he went for Judge Thatcher in the courts to make him give up that money, and he went for me, too.” (31) When Pap finally realizes that he cannot get the money, he goes after Huck, following him around and fighting with him. Pap then takes Huckleberry hostage, locking him in a small cabin up the river and beating him frequently. At first Huck didn‟t really mind, “It was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study.” (32) But finally Huck can‟t handle the beatings anymore, so he leaves. “I judged I‟d hide her good (the canoe) and then, „stead of taking to the woods when I run off, I‟d go down the river about fifty mile and camp in one place for good.” (39) In betraying his father, the feud worsens, even though Huck never saw Pap again until he was dead. Huck escapes by tricking his father into thinking robbers broke in and killed him, and then continues his way down the river. “And they‟ll follow the meal track to the lake and go browsing down the creek that leads out of it to find the robbers that killed me and took the things” (42) Huck realizes in the end that feuding can in fact be a good thing, that it can make people realize things that weren‟t prominent before. After multiple beatings and fights, Huck realizes that that isn‟t what he wants, so he leaves, thus escaping the feuding. “I didn‟t lose no time. The next minute I was a-spinning down-stream soft, but quick, in the shade of the bank.” (42) Feuds don‟t just happen between enemies though. Sometimes even a best friend can get on a person‟s nerves. Huck and Tom Sawyer, his best friend, may agree on most subjects, but on one they just couldn‟t agree. When Jim is captured and is held at the Phelps farm, where Tom‟s Uncle Silas and Aunt Sally live, Tom and Huck try to think of a plan to help Jim escape. While Tom is thinking up all these grand schemes and plans like heroes he has heard of in books, Huck is thinking more on simpler terms, ones that could actually work. “That was the order I wanted, and that was the one I played for. I wanted to be left free to work my plans.” (213) This feud may not be as prominent as the other two, but it still is a clash between two personalities. Huck is growing up, starting to think not as a child, but as an adult, while Tom, on the other hand, still is full of childish plans. The disagreement between the two boys can be seen in this dialogue, “"Well, then," I says, "if we don't want the picks and shovels, what do we want?" "A couple of case-knives.” "To dig the foundations out from under that cabin with?" "Yes." "Confound it, it's foolish, Tom."” (263) Huck realizes that the plan will never work, but Tom just doesn‟t seem to get it. Eventually though the boys work it out and all is well in the end. Jim is set free by Miss Watson‟s will, and the boys are able to continue living their lives. “Old Miss Watson died two months ago, and she was ashamed she ever was going to sell him down the river, she said so; and she set him free in her will.” (279) Feuds, even though by themselves are bad, the outcomes that come from them can be good or bad, depending on the situation. If a person‟s unlucky, like the Grangerfords and Sheperdsons, the outcome might not be so good, possibly ending in death, such as in their case. But if a person is lucky, like Huck and Tom, the outcome of the feud may be beneficial. Even though people disagree, things can always be worked out. This novel really portrays feuding in many ways, and affects the characters lives all around. Even though the feuds center around death, betrayal, and the changing of grand schemes, everything happens for a reason, and the characters in Twain‟s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn just need to forgot the past and move through to the future. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Enotes. 2009. http://www.enotes.com/finn/q- and-a/what-ironic-elements-feud-2803, April 8, 2009. Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Logan, IA: The Perfection Form Company, 1979.
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