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Throughout the novel, Huck and Jim are faced with problems and adventures. Jim teaches Huck the ‘right’ way to go about things and how to treat people. Most of the novel Huck grows as a person and matures. One might argue that it was because he was around other adults. But towards the latter part of the book, his old friend, Tom Sawyer arrives and Huck is up to his old tricks again. In the earlier parts of the book, Huck was very independent and thought of his own plans to get out of bad situations, but right after Tom wandered back into the story Huck just agrees with everything and anything that his friend suggests. He asks questions and tells Tom that it would be easier to perform the plan his own way, but Tom always puts his ideas down and disagrees with it. Clearly, throughout the first two-thirds of the novel, Huck’s character grows and Huck becomes more self-dependent, but every part of the story that Tom is involved in, he causes Huck to go back to his same old way.
In chapter 16, there are two men that talk to Huck and ask if he’s seen any runaway slaves. At first Huck hesitates to answer because he’s had a southern upbringing which taught him to think that slaves are people’s property and if you see one trying to escape, you turn them in. But in another thought, Huck doesn’t really want to turn him in because he’s been having such a good time with Jim and they’ve become really good friends at this point. In the end, Huck makes up a story that his Pap is in the wigwam and that he has smallpox. The men in the canoe are put off by this information and feel sorry for Huck and his father, so they put forty dollars on a piece of drift wood and tell Huck to take it. “Then I thought a minute, snd says to myself, hold on: s’pose you’d ‘a’ done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad—I’d feel just the same way I do now Well, then, says I, what’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong…?” (Pg. 91)
This attitude towards Jim is very different from his earlier one, in a previous chapter Tom helps Huck sneak out of the Widow’s house and Jim hears them making noise in the bushes. The two boys wait in the brush until Jim falls asleep and before they leave Tom has an idea that Huck doesn’t really want to do because he thinks that they might get caught. Tom ends up doing it anyway though; he takes Jim’s hat and puts it in the branches and ties Jim to the tree that he fell asleep under. None of this was Huck’s ideas, which makes Tom the less mature of the two. This is the starting level of Huck’s character where Tom is able to tell Huck what to do and his friend does never protests for long because he believes that Tom is so amazing and he really looks up to him.
Huck thinks that if he does what Tom says, then he will be just as cool as his best friend. Later on in the novel this changes and he starts to form a mind of his own. He even starts to stray from what he knows as ‘what is right’. In chapter 26, the duke and the dauphin try to con $6,000 out of the Wilk’s family. One of the daughters, Joanna, can feel that something is up and starts to question Huck to see whether they’re lying or not. At first Huck tries to lie to her, but as Joanna’s interrogation goes on, her sisters tell her to be courteous towards their guests. Huck felt bad about the situation because he knew that his trickster companions were going to take this family’s money. “I felt so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind’s made up; I’ll hive that money for them or bust ”(175).
So he thinks of a plan to take back the money that the duke and the dauphin took from them. I believe that if he had not grown up from his previous adventures with Jim, he would not have cared that these men were taking all this money from these people, in fact he’d probably want some of it for helping out. But Huck was very sympathetic for the family and tried to his best extent to fix what the conmen had done. This is a situation that proves how far Huck has come from being told what to do and looking up to Tom. Huck is now able to form his own opinions about things and starts to think “Hey, I am able to do things on my own. I don’t need Tom, or conmen, or anybody else to tell me what to do any more.”
In chapter 31, Huck discovers that Jim is sold to a family by the dauphin. After he learns this, he starts to write a note to Tom so that he can tell the Widow were Jim is so she can go get him, but then he decides that he doesn’t want to turn Jim in. He’s had so many experiences with him on the river; he’s practically his family now. He even cried earlier when he found out that Jim had been captured. If he had been the same kid that he was before the adventures with Jim, he would have thought that it was the right thing for him to do by turning his friend in.
But throughout the novel he learned that Jim is a human too, he’s not a piece of property. Jim has feelings, thoughts, and even a family. Huck was brought up to think that helping slaves was a bad thing, but from now on he knew that he would follow his heart and decided “All right then, I’ll go to hell!” (214). Here is another example that proves that Huck’s character has been growing throughout the novel. It shows this because of everything that this boy has gone through he has learned that it’s not always best to do what society says is right, sometimes it’s even extremely wrong and should never be done.
In chapter 35, the two boys think of plans to get Jim out. Huck thinks of a short and easy plan, while Tom thinks of something more complicated. Tom also complains about how his Uncle Silas should have a watchman, watch dogs, a moat, and a handful of other obstacles that make their task harder to perform. By this time, Huck is so mesmerized by Tom because he thinks that everything that his friend does is so great that nothing can go wrong if Tom’s doing it. Tom gets his way, as usual, and they start stealing things that they need from Aunt Sally.
They spend weeks on getting Jim out, when Huck’s idea would have only taken a few days at the most; Tom probably would not have gotten shot either. At one point Jim even lifted his chain from underneath the bed and went outside to help the boys. They could have just left then and there, but Tom had to make Jim’s escape as difficult as possible. If it was just Huck and Jim, they would have just left! This part of the novel was extremely hard to read, there was no point to prolong Jim’s escape, at this time in the plotline everything that had been made before was just being erased and there was just no point to the rest of this particular adventure with Tom; it was certainly not helping Huck’s character out.
This last section of the book took strides backwards from Huck’s development of maturity throughout the novel. It was like taking a few steps forward only to take twenty more backwards. And overall makes the ending of the book a bit disappointing, Huck is right back where he started, he’s now living in a house with another family that will try to strip him of his freedom and make him more civilized. In my opinion, the last adventure of the story ruined what the others had built up for Huck’s character. At the end of the story Huck had reverted back to idolizing Tom and falling for all of his manipulative lies just as before.