How does Mark Twain convey his ideas about right and wrong in the telling of Huckleberry Finn?

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Huckleberry Finn

‘But that’s always the way; it don’t make no difference whether you do right or wrong, a person’s conscience ain’t got no sense, and just goes for him anyway… It takes up more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, nohow. Tom Sawyer he says the same.’

How does Mark Twain convey his ideas about right and wrong in the telling of Huckleberry Finn?

The novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is very much a collection of Twain’s moralistic principles and ideas. This book is not only a correlation of all that Twain saw wrong with society but a total mockery of Southern values. Southern values, which included the unquestionable principle of slavery – the right to own people and treat them as possessions just because of the colour of their skin. The narrator of the novel - Huckleberry Finn – is the platform Twain uses to express his ideas, and examine the bigotry manifested within the book. The conflict in Huck’s mind between right and wrong is both a question of morality and what society has taught him to follow and believe.

There are many instances in the novel in which Huck expresses internal debates with himself and these are very clearly examples of Twain voicing his opinion on certain subjects. One recurring theme within these internal debates is the issue of slavery. Huck is at odds with himself over how wrong it is to be aiding Jim in the way that he does. In order to realise just how Twain conveys his ideas about right and wrong, we must examine the scenes in which Huck tries to overcome his moral dilemmas.

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The first scene in which we see Huck make a monumental decision is in Chapter 8, when he first finds out about Jim’s escape. He expresses shock and disbelief in reaction to this news. It is important not to lose sight of why he reacts in such a way. Although Huck is not a racist child, he has been raised by people in an extremely racist community. These people have, even if only subconsciously, ingrained some feeling of bigotry into his mind. He's never heard anyone question the institution of slavery, and he has every reason to believe that Jim ...

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