Things Fall Apart


Huck had several struggles with his conscience, whether it was right that he was helping Jim, a slave, to run away to freedom, should he leave the men on the Walter Scott to drown, and should he stop the king and the duke from fleecing the girls.

Huck’s biggest struggle by far was whether he should help Jim escape. This struggle can be attributed to the time-period, when slavery was accepted as a way of life. During the time, a person who helped a slave escape was considered a low-life, and Huck certainly did not want to bear that title. Huck had to wrestle with this idea two times during the story. The first time was when they were on the river, when Huck had made up his mind to turn Jim in and was rowing towards the shore when he met the two slave hunters. As Huck was rowing off, however, Jim had told him that he was Jim’s only friend, and that changed Huck’s mind. As a result, Huck fooled the two men into not searching the raft. The second time Huck decided to turn Jim in was when he learned the king had sold him off for forty dollars. Huck wrote a letter to Miss Watson to tell her where Jim was, but recalled how Jim trusted him, so he tore up the letter. These two incidences showed that while Huck was a southern boy who was not comfortable about helping a slave escape, he still did it because he was honest and did not like to break faith with people.

The incidence with the robbers on the Walter Scott showed that Huck is a sympathetic boy who does not want to see anybody hurt. Even though the ruffians aimed to kill Jim Turner by letting him drown, Huck still felt that they must be rescued and put in prison. That fact the Huck wanted to save even murderers showed that he was very altruistic.

Huck’s third major struggle with his conscience was when the king and the duke are taking advantage of the girls by pretending to be Harvey and William Wilks. The duke and the king aimed to steal the orphaned girls inheritance, which Huck felt was not right. However, Huck knew that if he revealed the scheme to the girls, the duke and the king would hurt him, so he had to decide between his physical well being and a clear conscience. In the end, Huck chose to tell the Mary Jane, and with some luck, escaped the wrath of duke, who in turn soothed the king’s temper.

All three times, Huck chose the good over the bad: helping Jim, saving the robbers, and foiling the larceny scheme, and all three times he succeeded in accomplishing what he set out to do. Mark Twain is trying show that if one follows their conscience, everything will turn out fine.