Road To Maturity in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Length: 1394 words (4 double-spaced pages)
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Growing up is a long and hard process we must all go through in life. Everyone grows and matures mentally and physically at their own individual rates, and although the line between being a child and being an adult is rather indistinct, there are certain qualities and attitudes that all mature adults possess. Attaining these qualities and ideals can only be done through life experiences and learning by trial and error. No one can grow up overnight; it is impossible. But as our prospective on life and the world around change, growing up is inevitable. In the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, the main character Huckleberry Finn begins the long process of growing up, and he starts to develop a more mature outlook on life.
One of the early examples of Huck still having quite a bit of growing up to do is shown in the book when Huck finds that Jim has run away and is hiding on the same island Huck is. Huck asks Jim how he got there, and at first Jim isn't going to tell Huck. But when Huck promises not to tell a soul, Jim confides in him that he has run off. Huck is shocked by this bit of information, and Jim reminds him that he promised not to tell. Huck responds by saying, "I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it. Honest Injun, I will. People will call me a low down abolishonist and despise me for keeping mum- but that don't make no difference. I ain't a going to tell." Huck is beginning to realize the importance of keeping ones word. Young children run and tell things that happen to anyone with ears, and it is hard for them to keep promises. He realizes that the things he says affect others, and the fact he is now capable of understanding that shows that Huck is beginning to have a more mature view on life.
Another key factor in growing up is being able to take the blame for one's own actions and being able to come clean and apologize when you have done something wrong. In the beginning of the book, Huck has a lot of issues with confessing his own actions.
While he and Jim are on Jackson's Island, Huck decides to play a trick on Jim by leaving a dead snake on his bed. Huck forgets that a snake's mate will always come back to its dead body, and Jim ends up being bit by the snake. While Jim is treating himself for the snake bite, Huck takes the dead snakes and explains, "I slid out quite and throwed the snakes clear away amongst the bushes; for I warn't going to let Jim find out it was all my fault, not if I could help it." Huck demonstrates here that he is not mature enough to admit to what he has done, and he is willing to just take the easy way out, with no argument from his conscious.
However, later on in the story Huck begins to take the blame for his actions when he pulls another prank on Jim. The two of them get separated in a dense fog, and Jim tries for hours to relocate Huck. Eventually the fog clears, and Huck finds Jim asleep on the raft, completely exhausted from searching all night for Huck. Huck pretends to also be sleeping, and when Jim wakes up and is thrilled to see Huck safe and well, Huck tells him the whole ordeal must have just been a dream, because he has been on the raft the whole time. Jim knows that Huck is lying, and he gets very upset that someone he cares so much about is so mean to him. With hurt feelings, he leaves and Huck thinks about what he did. Unlike earlier, where Huck would have felt no remorse in hurting Jim's feelings, or in lying to him, Huck now sees that the things he does hurt other people, and he decides to apologize to Jim. Huck says, "It was 15 minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterward, neither. I didn't do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn't have done that one if I'd `a' knowed it would make him feel that way." With this statement we can truly see the personal growth Huck has made when it comes to being accountable for his actions. He has learned that valuable lesson that his actions can hurt and affect others, and he starts to take the consequences for them.
Truth is a big issue involved with growing up, and Mark Twain showed in this book that Huck Finn made significant progress with being able to tell the truth. In the beginning we saw that Huck was quick to lie, and he was very talented at making up believable stories to get out of trouble. However, as he continues to travel down the river, he sees that lying is not always the best method, and that it purifies his conscious to tell the truth. We see evidence of this when Huck inadvertedly becomes part of one of the Duke and King's plans to swindle some young girls. The Duke and King pretend to be people they aren't, in order to get their hands on six thousand dollars that was left to the girls. Huck feels so badly for the girls that he finally confesses to one of them, Mary Jane, the truth about the Duke and the King's motives. After doing so he says to himself, "I reckon a body that up and tells the truth when he is in a right place is taking considerable many resks, though I ain't had no experience, and I can't say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here's a case where I'm blest if it don't look to me like the truth is better, and actually safer than a lie." This statement shows that Huck is beginning to see that honesty is an important and desirable trait for one to have. He realizes that it makes him feel better inside to tell the truth, and he is proud of himself for doing so. This shows that he is reaching a level of maturity where he can be honest and do the right thing, both crucial attributes to acquire in the process of growing up.
Knowing the difference between right and wrong is a very tedious and controversial concept to grasp in life. Humane treatment and respect are both things that everyone should expect, and that everyone should give, regardless of what the circumstances are. Huck demonstrates that he cares for people and how they are treated no matter what they may have done when he watches the Duke and the King get tarred and feathered after trying to swindle a large group of people. As he watches them be paraded shamefully through the town, he says, "I couldn't ever feel any hardness against them anymore in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another." I think more than any other line in the book, this one showed how Huck is very insightful and mature. A child would not be able to make such a deep inference about how it is wrong to treat others poorly, most children would merely laugh at and be entertained by this gruesome and cruel sight, but Huck is beyond that point in life. He sees how demeaning others is wrong, and his ability to forgive, appreciate, and accept people, no matter what they may have done, shows that he is in-fact very mature.
The process of growing up may never be fully completed. Even as adults people still learn and experience things that make them wiser to the world. Rising to meet the challenge of growing up is a hard thing to undertake, and although it takes some much longer than others to start maturing, all and all it is inevitable. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain really captured how one little boy began the long process of growing up, and having a more mature out-look on life.