How does Huck feel about being civilized in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Huck is averse to being "sivilized".  The stiff, uncomfortable clothes the widow makes him wear cause him to "sweat and sweat, and feel all cramped up", and he chafes under the requirement that he act decorously at meals and in front of others (Chapter 1).  Huck craves the life of freedom with which he has grown up, and except for the fact that his own father is an abusive drunk, he prefers the life they share awhile, "kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day, smoking and fishing, and no books nor study...my clothes...all rags and dirt" unlike at the widow's, where "you had to wash, and eat on a plate, and comb up, and go to bed and get up regular" (Chapter VI).

In keeping with one of the primary themes of the book, the underlying reason Huck is so against being "sivilized" is the hypocrisy exhibited by those who profess to be so.  A perfect example of this is when the widow, "dismal regular and decent in all her ways", forbids him to smoke while she herself takes snuff (Chapter 1).  From a larger perspective, this hypocrisy extends to the issue of a society which professes to be religious while condoning the dehumanizing institution of slavery.  It is no wonder that at the end of the book, Huck, threatened with "sivilization" once again, decides, "I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because...I can't stand it" (Chapter XLII).

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melissa1106 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Huck strongly dislikes the idea of being "sivilized". It is the main reason why he does not like living with Widow Douglass. He wants to be free and not have to live by a certain set of rules. He wants to be in charge of himself and not have a care in the world.

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