Describe some of the moral developments of Huck throughout the novel.

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mikejol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the central character, Huck, a prepubescent boy that has escaped captivity from his abusive father goes through several moral dilemmas as he attempts to run away. The most significant moral dilemma involves Huck's relationship with a runaway slave named Jim that had been the property of the Widow Douglas whom for a time had taken care of Huck. To Huck, there was no greater insult than to be called an abolitionist, and by helping Jim escape to freedom, Huck thinks that he is a terrible person. Huck's friendship with Jim grows over time and Huck is torn between his feelings for Jim, and the property rights of the Widow. On two occasions in the novel, Huck has the opportunity to turn Jim in but does not do so and tells himself that he may in fact go to hell for being a bad person. Ironically, most readers agree with Huck's decision to help Jim, but Huck thinks that what he is doing as wrong and that he may suffer dire consequences as a result. Also, the evolution of Huck's perception of Jim is an interesting development. In the beginning of their "flight" together, Huck plays practical jokes on Jim, and treats him with a degree of disrespect, but as the two continue their journey, Huck feels bad about his treatment of Jim, and begins to see Jim as a person. Interestingly enough, Jim becomes a critical character in the big and Twain's sense of morality. At the end of the novel, Huck and Tom Sawyer are attempting to free Jim from captivity again, and Tom is shot. Jim, knowing what the consequences of being caught are, stays with tom until help arrives. Jim risks his own safety and freedom to help the young boy, thus becoming the central moral figure.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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