Huckleberry Finn's Moral Development

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Huckleberry Finn’s Moral Development An important theme in Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is Huck's moral development. Twain examines the relationship between morals and their effect on society through the characters he develops. What our conscience tells us can lead us in either the right or the wrong way. Throughout the novel, Huck Finn has crises of conscience, which ultimately lead to his moral development. Morals are usually instilled in children at a very young age. Many early psychologists like Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg observed the behavior of children and concluded that our experiences mold moral understanding of right and wrong. "Both parents and peers influence development. Parents model education, discipline, and responsibility to name a few, while peers influence learning to cooperate with others, and finding appropriate ways to interact with people of a similar age" (Myers 580). Though Huck's guardians, Miss Watson and Widow Douglas constantly tried to "sivilize" Huck, he repells, therefore exposing his lack of maturity. This lack of maturity however, is shown mainly in the beginning of the novel. Kohlberg spent years researching how an individual develops their own moral codes. He believed that a person's moral judgment is motivated by a need to avoid punishment. Though Huck knows his relations with Jim will be shunned by society, he takes a huge chance and puts his reputation on the line. As Huck's adventures progress, he becomes more insightful and his morals begin to conflict with society. Although Jim is seen as inferior to Huck, through becoming friends with Huck, Jim gains importance and individuality in Huck’s eyes. When Huck first meets Jim on Jackson’s island, he has a crisis of conscience of whether or not he should turn Jim in. His conscience gets to him and he starts to feel guilty that he is helping

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