TheNatural life and the Civilization in Adventures of HuckleberryFinn
Mark Twain’s novel titled Adventures of Huckleberry Finntalks about the life of Huck as he runs from the wilderness to thesociety and moving back again. More importantly, it talks aboutmultiple themes that applied to the South region. However, this essaywill provide a summary of his adventure as he goes from the communityto the woods. In fact, the essay will focus on the first ten chapterswhile quoting and summarizing the key passages that highlight howHuck deals with the theme of civilization and the natural life.
“The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she wouldsivilize me but it was rough living in the house all the time,considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all herways and so when I couldn`t stand it no longer I lit out. I got intomy old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied”(Twain, Chapter 1, p.4).
The passage that is picked from the first chapter reveals the life atWidow Douglas’ home. In this case, Huckleberry Finn explains how hedid not like the life in the home. It is ironical how he does notlike the regular and decent life that the owners at home provide. Forinstance, he does not want a life where he gets his meals on timewhile their laundry is also done. Besides that, he also has abasement that has a couch and a perfect place to relax as well.Instead, Huck loves the simplicity life he will be exposed to nature,and he has to struggle in hunting an animal for the next meal.
“Now, we`ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer`sGang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and writehis name in blood” (Twain, Chapter 2, p.10)
After leaving Miss Watson’s home, Huck meets his friend Tom, andthey decide that they should create a gang that will terrorize theresidents. They even choose to create the name Tom Sawyer’s Gangthat will represent the factions. In this case, they recruit variousyoung people that will be the members of the band. Tom even suggestssome intense ideas that will seek the loyalty of the members thatwill join the gang. The scenario reveals why he decided to move fromhis foster home and decided to lead a gang that has hideouts in thecaves. He lives a simple life together with the other band members.
“Pap he hadn`t been seen for more than a year, and that wascomfortable for me I didn`t want to see him no more. He used toalways whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on methough I used to take to the woods most of the time when he wasaround” (Twain, Chapter 3, p.15).
The passage in chapter 3 reveals how Pap comes back after a longerperiod away. In this case, Huck illustrates how his father isabusive, and he is not used to his presence. Instead, he does notfeel free when his father is around since he is a bully and he isoften forced to escape when Pap is around. In fact, later, Papcatches up with Huck, and he forces him to give the money he hadgiven Judge Thatcher to invest for him. The scenario reveals theperson that Huck has to deal with. It is ironical that his father isno longer caring and loving but, he has turned into an abusiveperson instead.
“At first I hated the school, but by and by I got so I could standit. Whenever I got uncommon tired I played hookey, and the hiding Igot next day done me good and cheered me up. So the longer I went toschool the easier it got to be. I was getting sort of used to thewidow`s ways, too, and they warn`t so raspy on me. Living in a houseand sleeping in a bed pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but beforethe cold weather I used to slide out and sleep in the woodssometimes, and so that was a rest to me. I liked the old ways best,but I was getting so I liked the new ones, too, a little bit. Thewidow said I was coming along slow but sure, and doing verysatisfactory. She said she warn`t ashamed of me” (Twain, Chapter 4,p.18)
The passage shows how Huck finds the life in the woods a bituncomfortable. At first, it was clear that he did not love the decentlife that Miss Watson gave him. In fact, he moved out since he wantedthe simple life where he slept in the woods and struggled to find ameal instead. To some extent, Huck seems to appreciate thecivilization and believe that it is not comfortable to sleep alone inthe woods. Besides that, he does not love the idea of hiding sincethe Widow’s home had a variety of great things that werecomfortable too.
The judge and the widow went to law to get the court to take me awayfrom him and let one of them be my guardian but it was a new judgethat had just come, and he didn`t know the old man so he said courtsmustn`t interfere and separate families if they could help it saidhe`d druther not take a child away from its father. So Judge Thatcherand the widow had to quit on the business. (Twain, Chapter 5, p.24)
The passage shows the decision by the judge and the widow where theydecided to revoke Pap’s role as Huck’s father. Instead, theywanted to be his parents since his father has turned into thisheartless creature that was less concerned about his son. In reality,a father is supposed to be someone that is compassionate and caringbut, Pap does not exhibit any of the mentioned qualities. Incontrast, Pap keeps mistreating Huck and he does not meet any of hisneeds and that influences how the judge and the widow are forced toinvolve the government in the entire scenario instead.
“Call this a govment! why, just look at it and see what it`s like.Here`s the law a-standing ready to take a man`s son away from him—aman`s own son, which he has had all the trouble and all the anxietyand all the expense of raising. Yes, just as that man has got thatson raised at last, and ready to go to work and begin to do suthin`for HIM and give him a rest, the law up and goes for him. And theycall THAT govment!” (Twain, Chapter 6, p.30)
The passage reveals the irony in Pap’s statements and his actionstowards Huck. He criticizes the government for taking away his sonyet, he has spent time and money to raise the son. In reality, Papwas an abusive father that never spent even a coin on his son. Heeven claims that he was ready to raise his son responsibly asexpected. He even blames the government for being too harsh on him,and he wishes that they could have heard his side of the story.However, everyone knows that Pap is not a good father and he deservesto stay away from Huck.
“I took the axe and smashed in the door. I beat it and hacked itconsiderable a-doing it. I fetched the pig in, and took him backnearly to the table and hacked into his throat with the axe, and laidhim down on the ground to bleed I say ground because it wasground—hard packed, and no boards. Well, next I took an old sackand put a lot of big rocks in it—all I could drag—and I startedit from the pig, and dragged it to the door and through the woodsdown to the river and dumped it in, and down it sunk, out of sight.You could easy see that something had been dragged over the ground. Idid wish Tom Sawyer was there I knowed he would take an interest inthis kind of business, and throw in the fancy touches. Nobody couldspread himself like Tom Sawyer in such a thing as that” (Twain,Chapter 7, p.36).
The passage reveals how Huck escaped from Pap by faking his death andmoving to the Jackson Island where he found peace. It narrates theway that Huck smashed the door to make it seem like someone hadattacked him. Later, he killed a pig and then spread the blood on thefloor to make it look like someone had murdered him. The scenario wasa perfect way of getting rid of Pap since he was fond of punishinghim even if he has not made any mistake. Pap’s failure to cater forHuck’s needs also forced him to flee as well.
“The sun was up so high when I waked that I judged it was aftereight o`clock. I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinkingabout things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable andsatisfied. I could see the sun out at one or two holes, but mostly itwas big trees all about, and gloomy in there amongst them. There wasfreckled places on the ground where the light sifted down through theleaves, and the freckled places swapped about a little, showing therewas a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels set on a limb andjabbered at me very friendly” (Twain, Chapter 8, p.40)
The passage captures the life at the Jackson Island where he does notstruggle to do anything since he spent the entire day by idlingaround. In this case, it is clear that Huck appreciates the life inthe wilderness where he does not appreciate the civilization and theimpact it has created in the community. Occasionally, he runs fromthe town so that he might stay alone in the woods. In fact, the placehas only trees and a few squirrels and that reveal how odd Huck’slife is.
"Jim, this is nice," I says. "I wouldn`t want to benowhere else but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and somehot corn-bread." (Twain, Chapter 9, p.52)
The passage is somehow ironical since it reveals how the life in theJackson Island was more comfortable. In fact, Jim and Huck were ableto find some of the best meals in the woods. For instance, thepassage shows that they are eating fish and corn bread. One mightimagine that life in the wilderness does not present a delicious mealthat one can enjoy. However, the two reveal that the natural life ispeaceful and does not present any challenges that he experiencesunder civilization.
“He was barefooted, and the snake bit him right on the heel. Thatall comes of my being such a fool as to not remember that whereveryou leave a dead snake its mate always comes there and curls aroundit. Jim told me to chop off the snake`s head and throw it away, andthen skin the body and roast a piece of it. I done it, and he eat itand said it would help cure him. He made me take off the rattles andtie them around his wrist, too. He said that that would help. Then Islid out quiet and throwed the snakes clear away amongst the bushesfor I warn`t going to let Jim find out it was all my fault, not if Icould help it” (Twain, Chapter 10, p.56).
The passage illustrates the dangers that Jim and Huck were exposed towhile they were still in the wilderness. Even if it has the peace andsimplicity that Huck appreciates, they still face other challenges.In this case, a snake bit Jim’s heel, and it seemed like he washarmed. However, in the process, Huck tries to find a cure that willrelieve the pain that he was experiencing at that time. Moreimportantly, the scenario reveals that the wilderness is alsoinsecure and civilization might seem appealing instead. The communitydid not have any dangerous animals that might harm the people.
In conclusion, the first chapters reveal how Huck appreciates life inthe wilderness as opposed to the changes that civilization hasbrought to the society. In particular, the Huck appreciates thenatural life and does not like the civilized community where he facesvarious challenges. For instance, his father and the foster home aresome of the problems that he experiences yet, the wilderness hasmore peace and comfort too.
Twain, Mark.Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. BPI Publishing, 1924.