In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the theme of growth is used to develop Huck. Huck starts his journey as a boy but, by the end he is a man. Huck grew due to the variety of societies that he lived in, even if only for a short time. There were three societies in which Huck grew, whether for the best or for the worst depends on the situations he is in later on.
The first place where Huck met a different society is when he lived with Ms. Watson and Widow Douglas. When Huck lived with Widow Douglas and Ms. Watson, he was exposed to various things. Through Widow Douglas he was exposed to society, and how it generally works, “The widow rung a bell for supper, and you had to come to time. When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn’t (sic) really anything the matter with them” (Twain 2). Through contact with the School, Huck learned how to read and write, this helped him throughout his experiences with other societies. Huck would escape from Widow Douglas and Ms. Watson to play with Tom Sawyer and his gang of kids, later returning muddy and oily. The next day, Ms. Watson berated Huck about the state of his attire. Causing Huck to listen because he wanted stop her rant he unknowingly caused. but, Huck could only satisfy his fascination with fun and adventure with Tom and his gang. This, in turn, allowed a sense of wanderlust to develop in Huck.
The second society Huck encountered that helped him grow was when his father, Pap Finn, kidnapped him because Huck was getting too ‘civilized’ for his own good. “The widow she found out where I was by and by, and she sent a man over to try to get hold of me; but pap drove him off with the gun, and it warn’t long after that till I was used to being where I was, and I liked it—all but the cowhide part” (Twain 24). This demonstrates that, to some extent, Huck likes living there because he is free, he can do what he wants, and he is surrounded by nature. The only few things Huck doesn’t like are that he is in danger due to Pap coming home drunk and beating him. Another thing Huck didn’t like was when it was night; he was locked inside the log cabin with Pap. When Huck’s father, Pap, is gone; he decides to stage his death and leave after Pap had come home so drunk that he didn’t recognize Huck and tries to kill him. These series of events helped Huck grow because he had to survive the harsh environment and react quickly depending on the situation. For instance; after the incident where Huck’s father tries to kill him, he escapes an island, near his town.
On the island, Huck meets Jim, an escaping black slave. This introduces Huck to the life on the road society. In this society Huck has many adventures, even though there are many dangerous situations. Also due to him having a companion, they take care of each other. Like when Huck lies to Jim in chapter 15, saying that they were never separated, there was no fog, it was just one big dream. When Jim figures out that Huck tricked him, he is hurt “It was fifteen 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 afterwards, neither. I didn’t do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that way” (Twain 85-86).
This makes Huck truly realize how much Jim cares about him. Another time, when Huck feels guilty about helping Jim become free, he thinks of betraying Jim to slave hunters. When they do pass by and Huck tries and fails to give Jim up, Huck starts, physiologically, to beat himself up; “Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on; s’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than what 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 (sic) no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?” (Twain 91). This demonstrates that Huck realizes that he really cares about Jim and that even if Huck turned Jim in. Huck also realized he would still feel bad, probably worse than he felt before because if he had turned Jim in Huck would be betraying his friend.
As The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn progressed, Huck steadily changed how he viewed things and acted during certain situations thus, resulting in his growth as an individual. Even though, at the end of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is alone on the Mississippi River, he has escaped/handled dangerous situations on multiple occasions, resulting in his growth as an individual.