Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn told of a young boy who traveled south with a runaway slave, Jim, after escaping his father by means of a fake murder. In the myriad of misadventures, Huck observed many things, learned about himself and about the southern society, and dynamically changed as a person. Twain satirized the gullibility and the underdeveloped moral compass of the average southerner. Through this satire and characters in the novel, he discusses numerous topics including racism, treatment of the black population, of the female population and many more. The two most prominent themes that ran throughout the book included religion versus superstition and morals. Twain portrayed superstition as morally superior to Christianity through instances of Christian hypocrisy and that the actions of superstitious characters, including Huck and Jim, tend to be the ‘correct’ ones. In doing so, it demonstrates the religious hypocrisy, as well as general behaviors, of southern society.
According to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Christians are prone to religious hypocrisy. There are instances throughout the novel where religious hypocrisy can be easily found. For example, in chapter four, superstition and religion clashed when Miss Watson chided Huck for using superstition:
One morning I happened to turn over the saltcellar at breakfast. I reached for some of it as quick as I could to throw over my left shoulder and keep off the bad luck, but Miss Watson was in ahead of me and crossed me off. She says, “Take your hands away Huckleberry; what a mess you are always making!” The widow put in a good word for me… (Twain, 15).
This particular event, in the very beginning of the novel, demonstrates how two people of t…
…, and morals, and how it influenced the behavior of the ‘civilized’ society. In Huck’s misadventures, Huck had to confront difficult situations and, with that, Twain explored the complexity of morality as compared to superstition, Christianity, and the satirized behavior of the South.
Horwitz, Howard. “Can We Learn to Argue? “Huckleberry Finn” and Literary Discipline.” ELH 70.1 (267-300): 2003. Print.
Kastely, James L. “The Ethics of Self-Interest: Narrative Logic in Huckleberry Finn.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 40.4 (1986): 412-437. Print.
Light, James F. “Paradox, Form, and Despair in “Huckleberry Finn”.” Mark Twain Journal 21.4 (1983): 24-25. Print.
Lackey, Michael. “Beyond Good and Evil: Huckleberry Finn on Human Intimacy.” Amerikastudien / American Studies 47.4 (2002): 491-501. Print.
Twain, Mark. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn. 1885. Print.