The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Idea on the Damned Human Race Essay
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Mark Twain’s masterpiece – the result of a period in his life when he was able to freely exploit his talent to further his views particularly of his concept of the damned human race. This was highlighted in the novel by his examination of the Southern institutions, which, for Twain, most be denounced: slavery, violence, racism, bigotry, ignorance – realities that constitute the perpetual hell of the supposedly damned human race.
There are two types of people in Twain’s novel: the good ones who have been partly warped by their environment and the bad ones who have been totally twisted by it. It is the latter who would showcase Twain’s quarrel with the South. In the novel, he adeptly painted the southern backwater behavior between dramatizing cruelty on the one hand and its cowardice on the other.
Mark Twain spoke his mind clearly and directly in Chapter 22 where the indignant Colonel Sherburn mocks his would-be lynchers, and it is through Sherburn rather than the protagonist that Twain voiced his contempt for the South and the cowardice of the mobs. Here, his contempt for the mob outstripped his contempt for the southern aristocracy. To quote:
The idea of you lynching anybody! It’s amusing. The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man! Because you’re brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man? Why, a man’s safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind – as long as it’s day-time and you’re not behind him. (Twain, p. 148)
In addition, Twain used Sherburn to describe not just this specific lynch but also to provide substantial commentary on the existence and purpose of the southern lynch mob, which existed primarily to hang and to maim, physically and psychologically, African Americans.
In the case of Huckleberry Finn, Twain committed himself to a different sort of inquiry into the sources of human nature. The Huck character was developed without the influences of school, family, or church, and that he had, at best, had very limited, and at times uneven involvement in the society where Tom Sawyer and Jim inhabited. In short, for Train Huck was not mold according to any systematic moral training. While in the eyes of the community where he was supposed to live, he is a social pariah – ignorant, idle and shiftless, immoral, corrupting. However, that was not what Twain wanted to convey. Using Huck, he was able to paint Huck as an individual that is “conscience-free.” Furthermore, Huck was not only used as a point of comparison. Instead, Twain found that Huck’s point of view effectively satirized the absurdity and cruelty f established institutions and behavior.
In the course of the novel, Twain increasingly began to doubt the human capacity for moral progress. In this regard, Twain wrote, “there is no such thing as nature, what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training.” However, this view as expressed in the Huckleberry Finn novel pushed Twain to develop some generalization, which is to say less particularized, dramatic fiction.
Twain, Mark. (2003). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Spark Educational Publishing.