Huckleberry Finn – Religious Hypocrisy
Every so often a piece of literature is written that can question the beliefs of millions of people with what they hold to be true. Nothing is held to be truer than the feeling of righteousness, being faithful, morally pure, and the idea of an exalted higher purpose- religion. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn questions this truth. Indirectly, Mark Twain argues and criticizes the great deal of religious hypocrisy the American culture faces. Through the masterful use of satire and anecdote, the author conveys his repulsion to the dishonest church goers and religious practices, often cloaked behind a veil of humor.
Mark Twain uses mountains of satirical imagery to help carry his theme. I took up, and held it in my hand. I was trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. As a runaway boy, Huck Finn has the painstaking choice of doing the right thing to write a letter to the owner of a runaway slave and tell where the slave was, or go to hell if he helps the slave Jim, his friend. Morally, Huck is taught to give Jim in, but he sacrifices himself to take up wickedness again and steal Jim out of slavery. Defying his religious teachings, ironically, Huck does the most Christ like thing.
Mark Twain creatively puts in incidents that the reader can infer to represent religion and the church followers who refuse to learn the teachings. Another time, when Huck talks to a skiff with two men in it with guns looking for runaway slaves, he lies to stop them from searching his raft and finding Jim. He tells them that his pap got smallpox, and he needed their help to move the raft. The guys who were so concerned to rave through the raft are making excuses not to. Now we’re trying to do you a kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us. The men don’t want the smallpox so they feel sorry for Huck and they give him a twenty-dollar gold piece each. The men symbolize the church followers who solve any problem they have by giving money to the church and believing that they solved the problem but in reality only ran away from it.