What 5 quotes from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn show the theme of Huck vs. his conscience?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Twain wrote, "a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience."

Ch 3 Miss Watson, a slave owner, tells Huck if he prays he will get anything, but he does not receive the fish hooks he prays for. When asked why, Miss Watson says he "was a fool...." I couldn't make it out no way." Huck is in moral conflict with received values.

Ch 8 After running away, Huck discovers Jim, helps him knowing it is wrong. "All right then, I'll just go to hell" he decides.

Ch 13 Huck and Jim board a wrecked steamboat for provisions finding two thieves tied to the deck. Although they are criminals, Huck says,"my conscience got to stirring," so he alerts the watchman. "I couldn't rest easy till I could see the ferryboat start."

Ch 16 Current separates Jim and Huck who calls in vain, but takes a "cat nap." A tearful Jim finds Huck who lies to cover up his negligence. Jim tells him only "trash" lies; "It was 15 minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger--but I done it."

Ch 23 When the Duke and King sell off Jim as a slave, Huck pretends, "It's a good job they got him." He wrestles with his conscience, "it would be...better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was...," but he lies-"I was playing double"-that he will write Mrs. Watson. But, when he and Jim are together, he can not "harden me against him."

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  1. Huck and Jim have a conversation in chapter twelve about the moral considerations of "borrowing" corn, watermelon, mushmelon, crabapples, and p'simmons [sic]. They come to the conclusion that borrowing is stealing, but they find a find a way to move from not "feeling just right" about it to a mental place where it is "all comfortable."
  2. In chapter thirteen, Huck feels "a little bit heavy-hearted about the gang, but not much," when he sees the wreck of the Walter Scott sink.
  3. After Jim's dressing down in chapter fifteen, Huck reflects on the pain he caused Jim by pretending to be dead, telling himself "I wouldn't done that one if I'd a knowed it would make him feel that way."
  4. Because Huck is having a hard time shaking what he has been taught by society, Huck is horrified to hear Jim say that he would steal his children. He confesses "my conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever" and he makes his plan to "paddle ashore at the first light, and tell."
  5. When Tom Sawyer tells Huck in chapter thirty-four that he is going to "help steal [Jim] out of slavery" Huck thinks "that was the thing that was too many for me." Huck's conscience tells him, because of the values of the society in which he has been raised, that freeing Jim would be a crime and a sin.
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For exact quotes, you will need to use your book, but I can steer you to the right areas.

  • In chapter 15 at the end, Huck struggles to apologize to Jim for playing a prank on him.
  • In chapter 16, about 4 paragraphs in, Huck struggles with whether he should turn Jim in. (Read that entire chapter; there are several good quotes throughout it)
  • In chapter 31 Huck decides to write Miss Watson about Jim, and struggles mightily with that decision; there are several great quotes in that entire chapter

Those three areas should provide at elast 5 quotes for you.  I hope that helps!


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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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