Huckleberry Finn and Transcendentalism


Hour 1


Huck Finn Persuasion


Most people gain knowledge through life experiences, not through schooling.


Huckleberry Finn was written twenty years after the Civil War, by Mark Twain, about the ever‑present struggles to overcome oppression, racism and society. Throughout the novel, Twain uses the views of Transcendentalism to describe and account for Huck’s mistakes, actions, and sentiments. Transcendentally, Huck deserves praise at the end of the novel, because of all the things he has done to uphold his beliefs.


"We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft"(chapter 18). In the adventures that Huck has experienced, he excelled in gaining more knowledge than those who took part in educating themselves at schools. Some may say that Huck acts as a delinquent because he ran away, stole, and went against the ways of society, however, these qualities make Huck the outstanding person that he is. Generosity overcame Huck during his journey with a runaway slave, Jim. Of course, he could do the "proper" action of turning Jim in and risking his life, or keep the promise they once made to stand beside one another and never tell on the opposite. When the question came to Huck of turning Jim in, it ate him up inside and he questioned his intentions. As it says in chapter thirty‑one, "It was a close place. I took . . . up [the letter I’d written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a‑trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: "All right then, I’ll go to hell"—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming." Because Huck did not want to reform to what the society believed in, he should be punished? No, Huck defied the community on racial oppression by befriending a black man and succeeded in depending on nature and himself, rather than others.


Contrary to what most believe, Huckleberry Finn had to lie, steal, and run away to save himself and his fellow fleer. Lying could not have been easily avoided. If he hadn’t lied, he would have been found and brought back to the torturous world of proper etiquette and schooling. Stealing, or borrowing because of his intentions to eventually return it, turned to an easy task. As easy as it came to Huck, he realized its importance as well, otherwise death would be upon him. In chapter twelve, Huck tells Jim about Pap’s philosophy on "borrowing", "mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind. Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime." One of the hardest aspects in living with someone unlike yourself, is what they want to do to change you. When Huck was taken in by Miss. Watson and Widow Douglas, Huck says, "the Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar‑hogshead again, and was free and satisfied" (chapter 1). Huck’s problems with civilized society base themselves on some rather mature observations about the worth of that society. Huck goes on to associate civilization and respectability with a childish game, Tom’s gang of robbers. After Jim frees himself officially, Aunt Sally decides to espouse Huck in the last chapter. "But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before." Despite Huck’s growing friendship with Sally and Silas, he notices their part in the society