In the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, religion plays a major role in the life of everybody during that time. The effect religion has on everybody is different. Some people take it very seriously and have incorporated it into their lives, while others treat it as something that is unnecessary. The characteristics of Miss Watson and Widow Douglas are perfect examples of people who have dedicated their lives to the bible and base everything they do upon the bible. On the other hand, Huckleberry Finn is another very good example, but for people who treat religion as something that is not a big deal. Miss Watson is a pious Christian who would never doubt her religion. She is eager to believe in everything written in the Bible and follow all its instructions even though she has no evidence from daily observations to support the existence of God. Just as Huck points out, “they get down on a thing when they know nothing about it”, Miss Watson believes in the existence of God and Heaven and praying even though she has never seen God and Heaven or her praying accomplishes any of her wishes.
The Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson represent what a good Christian is in the South’s society by taking Huck in to raise him to be proper. While Huck thinks that being civilized is not as fun as living on the streets and doing what he wants, the sisters mean well when they take him in and try to care for him. They demonstrate how good Christians extend their help when they can to help “a poor lost lamb” (11) like Huck. Their idea of civilizing like many others in society includes teaching the Bible as they try to do with Huck by reading the Bible to him after supper. As Christians they preach plenty about the value of praying to Huck so he can obtain “spiritual gifts” (20) that will make him a better person. They also emphasize to Huck that he should do “[…] everything he could for others” (20) which brings out that the sisters are very charitable people like Christians should. The Widow Douglas and Miss Watson both are an example of proper Christians who read the Bible, teach it to the youth, and emphasize helping other people when they are in need. Even though teaching Christian ways to Huck did not work out an honest effort shows how Christianity plays a role in their character.
In contrast, Huck does not believe in religious views because it does not concern him in any way. His views on religion are that it is unnecessary and irrelevant to people’s lives. Widow Douglas and Miss Watson represent society as believers that religion is needed in daily life. On the other hand, Huck is Twain’s view on religion. Twain believes society is blowing religion out of proportion and that religion is not beneficial to the people whether they believe or not. He shows that religion is not necessary to “better” people such as Huck; this is shown when Twain brings in Huck’s father, Pap an abusive drunk, who only a “shotgun” (31) would be able to civilize him. Twain is not ridiculing religion, but he does not find any importance in it. Huck has a hard time gripping the concept of religion when the widow attempts to inform him on the religious beliefs of Christianity. He first viewed the religious tales such as Moses and the Bulrushers as a fantastical adventure but upon discovering that Moses was long dead, Huck decided to ignore the tale of Moses because “[Huck] don’t take no stock in dead people” (12). Huck sees no value in Moses since he has not been around for such a long time to be able to matter to Huck.
He concludes that religion is unrealistic since he sees that religion mainly centers on the past of dead people rather than the present. Like in Huck Finn then, religion creates controversy today and it is all a matter of opinion. One such topic the splits people down the middle is creationism, is the idea that a divine being created the universe as it is today. People who believe in Christianity believe that God created everything the way it is and those who do not believe think that the world has changed over time to become how it is today. Even if it’s not recent, during the late nineteenth century Fundamentalism was growing idea that stressed on strict interpretation of the Bible like how Miss Watson and Widow Douglas were.
Despite having believers there were also those who did not believe then. This is exactly like how it is represented in Huck Finn. There are those who strictly believe there is a God and those who are skeptical and need to ask questions and receive a reasonable answer. Since beginning of religion it has caused debates of whether it is relevant in our lives and always leads to personal preference. Although there are many obstacles along the way, Huck’s journey is more of a religious self-discovery as a young boy. As stated before, the effect religion has on everybody is different. Some people take it very seriously and others treat it as something very trivial. In the end he lives by his own rules, rather than the religious-based rules of others. Huck is able to sleep well at night because he tries his best to do the right thing instead of something for his own personal gain or what the Bible tells him. This would be one of the most important things someone needs to learn in life.