huckleberry finn guilt

January 17, 2017 General Studies

Trilling and Huckleberry Finn” Leo Marx states “the only guilt [Huck] actually knows arises from infractions of a social code.” (10) This supports the idea that “evil in Huckleberry Finn is the product of civilization.” Despite Huck Finns lack of anchorage to a specific surrounding he is forced to bear the load of guilt throughout his adventures. Huck understands the expectations of society and understands that any altercations of those standards results in a severe punishment such as going to hell. When contemplating sending the letter regarding the true whereabouts of Jim to Miss Watson over stealing Jim out of slavery, Huck undergoes deep thought before he can finally get the courage to say “All right, then, I”ll go to hell.” (214) Huck’s final decision shows that he believes that freeing Jim is the right thing to do. However, his prolonged hesitation portrays a sense of guilt for denying society and its standards.

Contrary to the conception that Huck only feels guilt when his actions are opposed to that of societies, Huck also has a lack of guilt when it seems that society approves of his actions. Huck views Tom as a representation of society and when Tom returns to the story in the latter chapters of the novel, Huck takes a submissive role and begins to follow Tom and his enterprising decisions. Huck fails to cease the frenetic schemes that Tom constructs such as the “dark, deep-laid plans” (238) that are just another attempt to design an adventure to entertain Tom. Huck complies with Toms implications that case-knives are needed to dig Jim out, rather than picks and shovels which is obviously absurd. Huck is ignorant that he and Jim are simply pawns in the adventurous game that Tom is creating. Therefore, Huck fails to feel fault for Jims delayed freedom.

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Finally, Huck is under the belief that everything society depicts and teaches is right and his own implications on life that even remotely contradict societies are conclusively wrong.


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