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Morality in Huckleberry Finn

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The novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain describes the maturing of the morality of an outcast boy, Huck, as he journeys with a runaway slave companion. Through the course of the novel, Huck escapes from the pressing rules of his culture and rebels against them to instead follow his own moral understanding. Twain conveys that the morality of people who are deeply enculturated may be corrupted by unethical norms of society.

Twain uses Miss Watson as an example of a civilized person whose concept of morality has been negatively influenced by the society. Miss Watson tries to live in a civilized manner to “go to the good place” (3). She is motivated by rewards, as her ultimate goal of reaching Heaven is her only reason for acting morally. Her shallow-mindedness and desire to match the ideally civilized person prevents her from seeing that keeping slaves is not morally right. White supremacy and slavery is natural to Miss Watson since they have been ingrained in her brain as a commonplace aspect of life. Twain condemns the hypocrisy of Christians like Miss Watson who are unable to see their own faults in their lives. She is so deeply rooted in her culture that she arrogantly dismisses the fact that anything about it could be wrong or hinder her Christian lifestyle. Miss Watson’s lack of morality shows that ignorant people who assume their culture has no immoral aspects are negatively influenced and succumb to mob mentality.

While Miss Watson is blindly follows whatever her society does, Buck blindly follows his family’s involvement in the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud. Though neither family knows the reason for the feud, all are still fully involved because they were sucked into the ways of the family from a young age. Twain satirically mocks of the families’ Christian hypocrisy when they choose to bring guns to a church sermon about neighborly love. Buck is an example of a naïve young boy who unknowingly gets pulled into the feud. He shows his lack of knowledge of the feud when his only reason for killing is that “it’s on account of the feud” (108). This violent and immoral environment has surrounded Buck for his whole life, so he does not question his family’s ways. Like Miss Watson, Buck is also in danger of mob mentality as he doesn’t wonder if their ways are sensible because everyone around them

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