The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn book cover
Start Your Free Trial

The Adventures of Huck Finn Themes Using the theme "Civilization is not civil or civilized", what are some specific details in the novel that prove this theme is true?

Expert Answers info

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

I think the best example of civilization not being civilized is Huck’s struggle with slavery.  He has been taught that slavery is morally right, and abolitionists are going to hell.  Yet he becomes friends with a slave, Jim.  This really confuses him.  He should turn Jim in, but he does not want to.  Huck finally decides HE is on the wrong side of society.  He is acting immorally, by setting Jim free and not turning him in.

Huck writes a note to Miss Watson, Jim’s owner.  He is trying to do the right thing, but he’s conflicted.

I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

“All right, then, I'll go to hell”—and tore it up. (ch 31, enotes etext p. 141)

Huck chooses going to Hell over acting against his conscience.  Huck’s conscience has grown cumbersome to him, but he finally decides to follow it.  Huck is not only breaking the law, he is breaking the moral code and believes he is acting sinfully.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now