Contrast of Eastern, genteel values to Western, frontier values using specific examples from the story, "Huck Finn."

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Widow Douglas and Miss Watson dress for dinner, say their prayers, and encourage Huck to get his education.  They sleep in fancy beds and wear nice clothing. They avoid profanity and attempt to live righteously with the Bible as their guidelines.  Huck, on the other hand, prefers life with his father so that he may have the opportunity to smoke, drink, and cuss.  Religion and formal education have no place in their lives, and formal clothing also falls by the wayside.  He sleeps under the stars on the grass, so there is no need for fancy furniture or even a house overhead.The Grangerfords are even more genteel than the Widow and Miss Douglas if you overlook the fact that they intend to murder as many Sheperdsons as possible before they die.  Mr. Grangerford is well dressed, polished, educated, and sophisticated.  He is bound and determined to teach his sons the polite way to act, and they do.  At meal times they stand until ladies are seated, they pay homage to their father, they are staunch protectors the property and family within.  Each of them owns a personal slave, and even Huck gets one assigned to him while he is living there.  In both examples of civilization and Eastern values, the family members are stuck in a system of tradition they are expected to fulfill.  Huck sees this as a damper on his freedom and he high-tales it back to the freedom of the raft, the river, and sleeping under the stars. 

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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