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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

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Do you agree that Huck is fundamentally alone and undervalued in Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

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Mark Twain presents Huck as an isolated character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but he is not alone.

When Huck runs into Jim on the island, after both characters have escaped the horrors of their existence in southern society, hardly could two more dissimilar characters occupy the same page when Twain wrote his novel. Huck holds onto his beliefs that his affection for Jim defies every rule of the life he has left behind when he runs away from Miss Watson and the Widow. Huck has also run away from his abusive father. At first glance, the reader might believe that Huck is alone because he cannot conform to society's restrictions and expectations. His father has kidnapped him, and one can safely assume from his vicious behavior toward his son, that Huck will eventually die at his father's hands. Huck has no other family.

Huck might feel very much alone at the beginning of the story. He does not bemoan the fact. He is smart, but stoic as well. Life has not been easy for him, but he takes each challenge as it comes, doing his best to survive. I think he sees himself more independent than alone without ties to anyone. However, he realizes he has a connection to Jim when he pretends to be lost from their raft in the fog. Jim is traumatized believing that Huck is (at best) lost or (at worst) has died. When Jim wakes and finds Huck there, Huck pretends it was all a dream. Jim puts their relationship into perspective:

When I got all wore out wid work...en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no' mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back ag'in, all safe en soun', de tears come, en I could 'a' got down on my knees en kiss yo' foot, I's so thankful.

Jim's dedication to Huck takes the young man by surprise. He is not accustomed to being of any consequence to anyone: he's been a punching bag for his father, and a "project" for Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas, intent on saving his soul as society dictates! When he hears Jim's thankfulness for Huck's safe return to the raft, he is ashamed of what he has done. If he did not care for Jim, the runaway slave's concern would mean nothing.

Huck's emotional connection is further evidenced not only by his struggle to conform to what society expects—that Huck is superior to Jim because of the slave's skin color—but we find what Huck is really made of by his decision to be Jim's friend. For him, his friendship is more important than his eternal soul. Huck notes:

You can't pray a lie -- I found that out.

However, he also realizes he can't live one either. And while he believes (ironically) that he is guilty of a terrible sin in protecting Jim, he decides to help Jim and accept the consequences. He recalls that Jim considers Huck his best friend, and that Jim has no one else in the world at this point. Huck chooses not to tell Miss Watson where Jim is and proclaims:

All right, then, I'll GO to hell...

Huck may feel isolated from society; his actions would be condemned by the white society—even though he lives only on its fringes. However, his emotional connection to Jim shows that he is not alone.

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