Swaim 1 Courtney Swaim Mr. Newcome AP Literature April 14, 2010 Huck Finn “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the only one of Mark Twain’s various books which can be called a masterpiece (Eliot).” Mark Twain’s use of characterization is one the elements that makes this novel a work of genius. He does a remarkable job of explaining a character’s background and personality to the readers so that they are able to understand a character’s motives. Mark Twain created Huck Finn, the main character, to be the son of the town drunkard. He has not had a great amount of parental influence in his life. Huck Finn is an immature teen age boy that needs the guidance of others to help him through his journey. Mark Twain uses other characters in the book to give Huck the knowledge and guidance he needs to make the transition from boy hood to man hood. Mark Twain did an excellent job of sketching the characters surrounding Huck Finn, such as Jim, Tom and Huck’s pap, so that they could relay their wisdom to him. However, the influence of the other characters on Huck Finn is not good in all cases but Mark Twain incorporated their lessons for a reason. The characters surrounding Huck Finn in the novel teach him valuable lessons about life; these lessons shape his personality and guide him through his long and exciting journey. The first characters that have a major influence on Huck Finn are Widow Douglas and Miss Watson. At the beginning of the novel, Widow Douglas adopted Huck Finn because of the absence of his father. The life Huck lived with the widow was quite different from the life he lived with his father. When Huck lived in the wilderness, he had dirty and raggedy clothes but in Swaim 2 his new life, Widow Douglas supplies him with fresh clothes. Huck thinks this is odd and he does not like his new civilized life. At first Huck did not completely like living in such a way but eventually he settled in. Widow Douglas was able to convince and show Huck that living in a civilized manner could be a good thing. Huck did not have much of a choice but to live that way the widow wanted him to because she was his temporary guardian and he was grateful that she was protecting him from his pap. Huck learned to enjoy his new life, which the widow influenced completely. Widow Douglas had more of an influence on Huck than changing his lifestyle for a few shirt months. The widow once told Huck to always help others before himself. Huck did not think much of this piece of advice at first but when he was deciding whether to steal Jim, the widow suddenly popped into his mind. Huck took the widow’s advice to heart and her advice helped him make some very important decisions during his journey down the river. Another character that had a major influence on Huck Finn while he was living his civilized life with Widow Douglas was Miss Watson. Miss Watson is the widow’s sister and attempts to teach Huck how to read, write, do math and believe. Huck had no problem learning the first three things in the list but he had trouble understanding the concept of religion. Huck did not understand why they prayed, nor did he want to. Miss Watson increased Huck’s knowledge base greatly. Huck may not have used the facts he learned from Miss Watson but the ability to read and write definitely helped him out later in the book. Also, his being able to read and write made him a wiser and more logical boy. When compared to Tow Sawyer, Huck may seem ignorant but he is really a smart boy. He owes this to Miss Watson. Huck also used the little that he learned from Miss Watson about religion in his journey when he was debating whether to save Jim from slavery. Miss Watson did not have a direct impact on Huck but she definitely influenced him in an important way. Swaim 3 The next character that we see in the book that has some sort of influence on Huck Finn is his pap. Huck does not admire his pap at all and is even afraid of him. Pap beats Huck and did not treat him well as a kid. Not to mention Pap is the town drunkard and has no control when he is intoxicated. He beats Huck without knowing what he is doing. Even though Pap was not the greatest father to Huck, he influenced him greatly. Some ways were good but most ways were bad. Pap obviously set a bad example by spending all his money on whiskey and not doing anything with his life but causing trouble. Huck may have grown up around this nonsense but he did not aspire to be anything like his father. When Pap found Huck towards the beginning of the novel he to him that he did not want him to attend school any longer. He claimed that no one else in the family learned how to read and write so Huck should not have the privilege to be better than his ancestors. This is clearly a bad influence because Pap took Huck out of school and forced him to remain ignorant. The one thing that Pap told Huck that was a good lesson was the only way to please someone else is to let them have their own way. This lesson helped Huck a great deal when the Duke and the King came into the plot. Huck knew very well that they were frauds but he decided that he did not want to stir up any trouble with them. We do not know whether this was the greatest decision at the time but the decision was made with the help and guidance from Pap. Huck’s father was not the greatest father in the world but was a good example of what not to do, how to please someone and how to survive in the wilderness. Jim is the next character that affects Huck greatly. Jim has the greatest influence on Huck. This could be because they spend so much time together and talk a lot but Jim still has a way of making Huck see his point of view to teach him valuable lessons. The way that Jim influences Huck is with his superstitions. The first superstition is when Huck and Tom played the trick on Jim and he claimed that witches were out to get him. Jim told the story to many Swaim 4 people, not including Huck. Even though Huck was not told the story he began to learn how superstitious Jim was. Then he asked Jim to talk to the hairball for him. The hairball supposedly could tell the future and it would talk to Jim. It did not matter whether Huck believed in it or not Jim did. When Huck saw how much Jim cared about his superstitions he learned to respect them. Jim also had crazy signs of good and bad luck that Huck soon learned to respect. When Huck was joking around and out the snakeskin in Jim’s bed, he soon realized that Jim was not lying about the extreme bad luck of snakeskins. A rattlesnake bit Jim and he was ill for many days. After that scary incident, Huck never doubted one of Jim superstitions ever again. Jim was an influential character in Huck’s life more than just telling him his superstitions. Jim was a wise slave. He was very smart but stubborn at the same time. When Huck and Jim were talking about King Solomon Jim knew exactly what he was talking about. Huck was never able to change his opinion on Solomon. Jim was also very stubborn when Huck was trying to explain to him why French and Americans spoke different languages. Jim was a very smart slave and had a lot of common sense. This was passed down to Huck on their long journey together. The last way that Jim influenced Huck Finn was through their relationship. Jim told Huck that he was the best friends he could ever have and this made Huck think long and hard about his actions. Whenever Huck played a prank on Jim he immediately felt bad because he realized how much his friend was hurt by them. Jim’s influence on Huck also became evident towards the end of the story when he and Huck become separated for the first time since the fog. Jim was snatched when Huck was off in a town with the Duke and the King. Huck had to make a very important decision about how to handle the situation. Huck had to choose whether to break the law and steal back out of slavery and go to hell or would he do the right thing and just Swaim 5 move on. Huck deeply considered his possibilities and decided he would rather go to hell than betray his best friend. If Jim and Huck were not so close Huck could have easily left Jim behind. Jim obviously had some sort of impact on Huck since he was willing to go to hell for him. Even though Huck thought about what other people told and taught him when he was deciding the thing that really convinced him was that he and Jim were best friends and just like Jim helped him escape he was going to help Jim find his wife and children. The next characters that have an influence on Huck Finn are the so-called Duke and King. For the most part they influence Huck in a bad way. He lies to Jim a lot to cover for the Duke and King and he also steals innocent people’s money. The Duke and King are frauds and this is how they make a living. When the first come into the story they are running away and the find Huck and Jim and convince them to let them tag along. The Duke and King turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. They drag Huck and Jim to all these towns to make money. The Duke and King influence Huck in a very bad way with all of the frauds. Huck comes along with them to help them out but he ends up participating in their schemes just as much as they do. They teach him to lie scam and take the money of innocent people. The scandals that Huck gets involved in with the Duke and King teach him extremely bad lessons and nearly get him caught in many cases. Even though Huck has been under the bad influence of the Duke and King for a number of months he has not forgotten the morals taught to him by Widow Douglas, Miss Watson and Jim. He eventually realizes that the Duke and King are horrible people and plots to steal the money from them and help everybody realize the horrible people that they are. Huck does not seem to get away with running away from them at first but he out smarts them once again and sets him self free of the frauds and scandals of the Duke and King for good. He used the lessons he learned from the good people in his life to help him get out of a bad situation. Swaim 6 At one point in the story Huck becomes separated from Jim. Huck finds a family by the name of Grangerford and they let believe his story and let him stay with them for a few days. Huck learns a few things from this experience. He learns what a feud is and deadly they can be. The Grangerford family has a long time feud with the Sherpardson family. The Grangerford bo Buck is always looking for a kill. Huck does not completely understand how the feud came about or why it is so important to each but he is still curious. One day he woke up to an empty house and went looking for everybody. He found Buck and another boy with guns pointed toward a Shepardson. The Shepardson got away and killed Buck and the other boy. This moment had a profound impact on Huck because he learned how precious life was. Huck may have only stayed with the Grangerfords for a few days until he had help finding Jim but he learned a lesson that nobody could teach him but the he had to learn for himself. Another character that had a major influence on Huck Finn was his other best friends Tom Sawyer. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn found lots of money together and have been on many exciting adventures together in the prequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Even though Tom Sawyer is Huck’s best friend, he does not always treat him like one. For example when the boys were making the bank robbers club Tom almost did not let Huck join because he does not have parents. That is not Huck’s fault but Tom would not make an exception for his best friend. The part in the novel where Tom has the most influence on Huck is at the end when they are trying to break Jim out of slavery. Tom lied to Huck because he already knew that Jim was free. In this situation Tom is forcing Huck to go back to his old self, the Huck that was immature and lied. Huck wanted to take the simple way to break Jim out but Tom wanted to come up with an elaborate plan that would take many months. Huck and Tom both knew that Huck’s plan is easier but they still revert back to their Swaim 7 childish ways of the books they read. Despite everything that Huck had learned form other people in his life he was still willing to follow Tom’s every command. That is was makes Tom such a bad influence on Huck. Huck is jealous of Tom’s seemingly perfect life that he is willing to be his shadow and follow his every command. Because Huck becomes Tom’s shadow his becomes immature all over again as if he had forgotten everything he learned during his journey. The last person that has an influence on Huck is of course himself. The other people in the story may be able to teach him as much as they wanted be Huck was the only on who could do something. Huck took everything that every taught him to heart. He gave the Duke and King what the wanted to satisfy them and keep them happy. Huck thought of Jim before himself when deciding to save him from slavery or not. He even thought about religion and heaven or hell before saving Jim. Huck also made the decision to help the sad family who had just lost a beloved member escape the fraud of the King and the Duke. He made this decision entirely on his own without the influence of Jim or anyone else. He used his feelings for the situation and his own cleverness to help the girls in the family out. Huck used all of the knowledge that he previously acquired to help him in his journey through the woods. Huck already had a good amount of knowledge but he still was immature at the beginning of the novel. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is about Huck Finn’s transition from boy hood to man hood. He starts out as a teen-age boy with out the guidance of his biological parents. He is confused because he is adjusting to a new way of life. Mark Twain did a remarkable job with the characterization in the novel. He created every character in a way so that when they met Huck he would be forced to learn something knew or change his opinion on something. Each character that encountered Huck taught him a new lesson that helped him through out his long journey to a new beginning. However, Huck had to make all of these decisions on his own. It Swaim 8 was completely up to him to make the transition from boy hood to man hood. Huck could have gone back to his old ways, like he did at the end, at any time but instead he did the wiser thing in most situations. Every character taught him a lesson and also twisted the plot in their own way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a unique story because of the way each character has such a big role in the novel. Swaim 9 Works Cited Browne, Ray B. "Huck's Final Triumph." EXPLORING Novels. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 13 Apr. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111200608 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0>. Brownell, Frances V. "The Role of Jim in Huckleberry Finn." EXPLORING Novels. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111200609 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0>. Cummings, Sherwood. "What's in Huckleberry Finn?." EXPLORING Novels. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111200610 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0>. Hansen, Chadwick. "The Character of Jim and the Ending of `Huckleberry Finn." DISCovering Authors. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2101202668 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0>. Swaim 10 James, Pearl. "Overview of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." EXPLORING Novels. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111200005 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0. Kean, John M. "A Rationale for Teaching Huckleberry Finn." EXPLORING Novels. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111200611 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0. Mattews, Brander. Review: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Thomas Cooley, ed. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A Norton Critical Edition ed. New York: WW Norton & Company, 1999. "Themes and Construction: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." EXPLORING Novels. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Gold. Gale. BRUNSWICK SR HIGH SCHOOL - MD. 12 Apr. 2010 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do? &contentSet=GSRC &type=retrieve &tabID=T001 &prodId=SRC-1 &docId=EJ2111500032 &source=gale &srcprod=SRCG &userGroupName=fcpsbhs &version=1.0>. Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: WW Norton & Company, 1999.