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Huck Finn Essay

Huck Finn Essay

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Published by Jeremy Keeshin

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Published by: Jeremy Keeshin on Jun 09, 2007
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Jeremy KeeshinRebellion and the Search For Identity
 
Jeremy KeeshinIt is natural for youth to reject society. This rejection is blatantly evident in today’sculture of gangs and drugs and dismissing authority. This is a necessary step in maturing thathelps teens and young people in general find their identity. They say high school is a time for experimentation, and this is because teens need to circulate through different groups andactivities to find to which they belong. Rebellion in youth searching for their identity has existedthroughout the ages. In his novel
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, Mark Twain highlightsthe struggle of the search for identity in youth.
The title character, Huckleberry Finn, does nothave an identity and this leads him to rebel against society. Huck’s rebellion exacerbateshis lack of identity, and his struggle and failure to find his identity is integral to himestablishing his own needs so that he can integrate into society.Huckleberry Finn does not have an identity because he fails to establish his life inone place and is incapable of being sure of his own ideas.
Huck’s life is characterized by lifeon the move; right from the onset of the novel he cannot seem to settle down his life permanently. He starts off with the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, then ends up with hisfather, then goes on the lam with Jim, then goes and stays with the Grangerfords. After that,Huck finds himself traveling in the company of the duke and the king, and then they end upresiding with the Wilks family. After Jim is sold, Huck arrives at the Phelps farm, where he pretends to be Tom Sawyer, until he is caught at the end. Huck’s movements between locationsare significant because they reveal that he has not found a place where he fits in, and this causeshim to keep moving. His lack of a place to stay reveals that he does not have an identity, and isnot sure of what to do with himself. Early in the novel the Widow Douglas realizes Tom ismisplaced in the eyes of society when she calls him a “poor lost lamb” (32). Huck realizes thathe too is misplaced, but cannot identify a solution. He says, “All I wanted was to go
 
Jeremy Keeshinsomewheres; all I wanted was a change” (33). His initial company realizes he is lost, and this proves he does not have an identity.Huck’s stay at the Grangerfords reveals his inability to settle down at one place, and hisinsecurity with his actions. At Huck’s arrival he tells the reader “they said I could have a homethere as long as I wanted it” (110). This is a vital turning point for Huckleberry because he hadthe chance to settle down and find a place to interpret himself. He stays for a little and enjoystheir company, but after one rocky incident he is gone. Huck says, “I was mighty down-hearted;so I made up my mind I wouldn’t ever go anear that house again, because I reckoned I was to blame, somehow” (123). He suddenly feels guilty and indirectly responsible for the actions. HadHuck had an identity and been confident in it, he would have known himself and been able tomake his decision more rationally. Additionally, early on in the novel Huck’s visceral actions areevident. When Miss Watson tells Huck to pray and it fails to work for him, he says, “No says I tomyself, there ain’t nothing in it” (40). This reveals his shallow understanding of prayer, and hisquick dismissal of the idea reveals the nature of his primitive decisions.
Huckleberry Finn struggles to find his identity because when his life seems to be at acrossroads, he debates himself about which way to act and what he thinks is right.
The chief indicator of Huck’s struggle to find his identity is when he feels guilty in certain situations, andhis conscience affects the way he acts. Huck feels guilty multiple times over Jim’s freedom, andthat he is directly responsible for the illegal act of freeing a slave. The strength the battle in hisconscience is revealed when he says, “I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished Iwas dead” (101). Huck resolves to give Jim up, but when two men come to search for Jim, Huck  bravely defends him because Jim is his only friend. Huck sways back and forth over this issuemultiple times over the book. Huck’s struggle to find his identity is demonstrated here by the

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