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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain
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Can Huck—who chafes at being “sivilized” and indeed questions any rule or orthodoxy from church to good manners—be said to have a belief system? How do his beliefs, and his understanding of them, evolve over the course of his adventures? (Use only chapters 1–4 in your response.)

Huck's belief system evolves as he is confronted with things he does not understand, and he has no one to explain them to him. For the most part, Huck simply doesn't believe in the adult world of superstition and rules. In addition to believing that Huck fails to grasp major concepts, such as prayer and Heaven, many critics believe that Twain really intended his reader to see that Huck holds racist views. The novel was written in 1885 when racial prejudice was still very common in America, particularly toward the African-American community. A few years earlier, the Dred Scott decision had denied citizenship rights to African Americans even though they were free men.

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Huck Finn does have a belief system in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn . A belief system is simply a collection of propositions that a person holds to be true. Huck's belief system actually includes the habitual belief that most people's belief systems are not true and...

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Huck Finn does have a belief system in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A belief system is simply a collection of propositions that a person holds to be true. Huck's belief system actually includes the habitual belief that most people's belief systems are not true and that rules and good manners are made to be broken. Huck also holds to a large number of superstitions, including throwing salt over his shoulder to avoid bad luck.

In the first few chapters of the novel, Huck is confronted with some beliefs that make no sense to him. Miss Watson decides that she will civilize Huck, but she goes about it in completely the wrong way, talking about how Huck must behave properly if he wants to go to Heaven. Huck has no understanding of Heaven, and he figures that he doesn't want to go there if that means that he will have to endure Miss Watson for all eternity.

Further, Miss Watson tells Huck that if he prays every day, he will receive what he is praying for. Huck gives is a try but finds that it doesn't work, so he gives up on praying. Miss Watson has failed to explain to Huck that prayer isn't magic, and he simply does not understand how prayer really works.

We can see, then, that at first, Huck's belief system evolves as he decides what he does not believe in, yet his failure to grasp concepts like prayer and Heaven really isn't his fault. The adults around him fail to explain in a way Huck can understand, and they are, therefore, largely responsible for his faulty belief system.

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