Huck changes from a wayward child to a mature young man who knows his mind.
At the beginning of the story, Huck is trying to find a way to survive civilization. He is living with the Widow Douglass and Miss Watson, and they want him to wear clothes and go to school and church. He does not understand why people are hypocritical, and focus so much on rules and religion that don’t make sense.
Initially, Huck struggles with his conscience because he is trying to figure out what to do with Jim. He does not want to turn him in, because they are like friends. Yet at the same time, he worries that he is breaking the law and being immoral by helping a slave escape.
I tried to make out to myself that I warn't to blame, because I didn't run Jim off from his rightful owner; but it warn't no use, conscience up and says, every time, “But you knowed he was running for his freedom, and you could 'a' paddled ashore and told somebody.” (Ch 16)
Huck later revisits this thought. He knows that what he is doing is considered wrong, and many people would tell him that he was going to go to Hell for it. Huck starts to write a note telling Miss Watson where Jim is, but then he thinks about the good times they have had together as friends.
“All right, then, I'll go to hell”—and tore it up. (Ch 31)
Huck has decided to go his own way. He is going to make his own choices. Sometime later, after he learns that Tom knew that Jim was free the whole time he was supposedly helping Huck free him, Huck decides to leave civilization altogether.
But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before. (Ch 43)
Huck has had it with supposedly honest, pious people. Throughout the journey, he met some interesting friends and even some nice folks. Yet he also saw hypocrisy and dishonesty at every turn. He is convinced that staying civilized will sentence him to the same behavior. He has found his own moral code, and abandoned society’s.
Would you say that the climax of the novel is when Huck tears the note up? Thanks for your help!