Sunday, September 25, 2011

Huck Finn 2

Chapters 16-30
         After surviving the steam boat wreck and their separation in the fog Huck and Jim are once again met with misfortune when they realize that they passed the town of Cairo and the Ohio River which would have lead Jim to the free states. Even more bad luck comes their way when a steamboat overturns the raft. Huck is again separated from Jim and washes on shore where he is taken into the Grangerford home. After the battle between the Grangerford and the Shepherdsons most of the Grangerfords are killed, and Huck runs away with Jim again. The two eventually meet up with two con-artists that Twain names the Duke and the King. After basically hijacking Huck and Jim’s raft these two men pull off a succession of scams in several towns along the river. In the end of this section Huck thinks he has escaped the two frauds. Unfotrunately, they eventually catch up to him and nearly strangle him because they suspect he was trying to leave them behind.
         In these chapters it seemed to me that Huck’s conscience was really starting to become more prevalent in both good and bad ways. In the beginning Huck battles with the belief that if he was a good person in his current societies standards he would have turned Jim in. He even decides at one point to give Jim up, but has a change of heart (Ch. 16). This internal struggle between doing what he was raised to believe is right and what he wants to do to help Jim follows Huck throughout the story. Huck’s conscience is clearly developing in chapters 25-27 when he decides to help the Wilks sisters keep their inheritance. He clearly feels that what the Duke and King are doing is wrong, and decides to undo their plans to leave the three girls penniless. It seemed to me that along the journey Huck was maturing and beginning to grow out of the boyish behaviors he had in the first few chapters.
         It is clear that Twain is making many statements about human nature in these chapters. In the episode with the Grangerfords and The Shepherdsons he seems to be referring to the horrible things people were willing to do out of pride. These two groups of families committed horrible acts of murder simply because of some argument that neither side could remember. Later the speech Colonel Sherburn gives (on pages 25-27) about human nature highlights the aspects of mob mentality that we have been discussing since we read  Hawthorne’s My Kinsman Major Molineaux. Finally, the naiveté of the three Wilks sisters could be a commentary on how people (possibly women) are naturally willing to trust.
         The immorality shown by the Duke and King is at some points unbearable. There seems to be no limit to how low these two characters will sink. They connect to many of our previous readings. One major connection I made was when the King conns the people at the camp meeting into believing he was a reformed pirate wanting to convert other pirates. Here Twain gives a prime example of the type people Cartwright discussed in his writings. It is clear from this example that though these camp meetings were good places for religious people met to worship together, they were also easy targets for con men such as the King and the Duke. 

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