In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, what actions show that Colonel Sherburn lacks a moral compass or conscience?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is in Chapter 21 when we are first introduced to Colonel Sherburn, and we see him for who he really is. We are first presented with the sight of Boggs who is clearly intoxicated and is apparently seeking out Colonel Sherburn to kill. However, although Huck is scarred by Boggs's appearance and words, he is assured by another man, who says:

"He don't mean nothing; he's always a-carryin' on like that when he's drunk. He's the best naturedest old fool in Arkansaw - never hurt nobody, drunk nor sober."

However, Boggs goes on to insult Sherburn in his drunken state. In the end, the other people get Boggs's daughter to come and reason with him. As she arrives, Colonel Sherburn shoots Boggs dead in front of her and in cold blood. It is clear that Sherburn shows he has no moral compass in his killing of a man who was insulting him but only because he was drunk. The violence of his revenge is disproportionate to the offence, indicating that Sherburn has no conscience.

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