Is Huck a model character? When one thinks of the qualities of a hero, being brave, caring, giving, respectful and responsible may come to mind. When one thinks of Huck Finn, however, these qualities do not always seem apparent. So Huck does not appear to fit the heroic mold. Huck is a mischievous boy who does not have a formal upbringing and is free to do what he wants. Huck has no quality life at home. His father named Pap, is a drunk who does not give any support to Huck. Huck absorbs all of his knowledge through his own experiences. Huck had to acquire all of his personal traits and values by himself and with no discipline. After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, one can see the personality of Huck is more deeply examined and he is found to be very adaptable and resourceful, loyal to friends and sensitive to others.
Huck proves himself to be a very adaptable and resourceful person in the ways he deals with difficult situations and creatively solves problems. Huck, in the beginning, is living with the Widow Douglas where he learns to deal with being clean, taking baths and using proper etiquette. "I liked the old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new ones, too, a little bit"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (Twain16). Huck was able to fit into each new situation so easily that when his father kidnapped him, he fell right back into his old ways. ""ÃÂ¦and it warn't long after that till I was used to being where I was, and liked it, all but the cowhide part."Ã¯Â¿Â½ and, "I didn't want to go home no more"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (25). Even though Huck liked the roughness of staying with Pap, he could not stay with him because his father beat him. "I made up my mind I would fix some way to leave there"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (25). After spending much time in Pap's cabin, trying to think of a way out, Huck found a saw that led to the formation of his plan to escape. "I found an old rusty wood-saw without any handle; it was laid in between a rafter and the clapboards of the roof. I greased it up and went to work"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (26). After cutting a hole for his escape in the cabin, Huck planned to make it look like he had been killed. Huck put pig's blood in the cabin, placed some of his hair by the ax used to kill the pig and hauled rocks to make it look like a body had been dragged, all in order to make it look like there was a struggle. When Pap saw this, he thought Huck had been killed, just like Huck planned. Another time Huck used his skills, was when he found out that Mr. Loftus was searching for a runaway slave and gathered that it was Jim. Mr. Loftus overheard another man who said he saw smoke coming from the island, and Mr. Loftus realized that if a person were to run away, that the island would be a good place to hide because it was very secluded. Huck went back to the island to warn Jim, but first he lit a fire to distract Mr. Loftus. "But I shoved right into the timber where my old camp used to be, and started a good fire there on a high-and-dry spot"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (68). Huck realized that if he were to light a fire at his old camp, Mr. Loftus would go in that direction and Huck and Jim could get away safely. Another instance where Huck used his resourcefulness was when he was staying with the Grangerfords. Huck was playing with a young boy named Buck but forgot the alias he had been using. Cleverly, Huck tricks the boy into spelling out his name acting like it was a game. " "ÃÂI bet you can't spell my name,' says I. "ÃÂI bet you what you dare I can,' says he"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (121). Huck has the capability to think on a moment's notice and fit into the situation at hand. For instance, at one point when Jim and Huck were traveling down the river, hiding during the day, Huck created a story to save Jim. At one point two men were questioning Huck about Jim and were asking Huck if Jim was a runaway, Huck gave them an ingenious reply. "They asked us considerable many questions; wanted to know what we covered up the raft that way for, and laid by in the daytime instead of running-was Jim a runaway nigger? Says I- "Goodness sakes, would a runaway nigger run south?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (149). In this case Huck, although very young, used his resourcefulness to save Jim's life. Also, Huck had the ability to devise schemes that people easily believed and if needed was able to play the role of the opposite sex. When Huck arrived at the Loftus's house he was dressed as a girl and was invited in by Mrs. Loftus who said, "Ã¯Â¿Â½What might your name be?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (62). Huck answered, "Sarah Williams"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (62). At first, Mrs. Loftus does not suspect a thing, but as time passed Huck revealed many characteristics that led Mrs. Loftus to think he was a boy. Even though Huck was eventually found to be a boy, it took much skill on his part to convince Mrs. Loftus to think he was a girl at first. His ability to adapt and cunningly fit into every situation made him an exemplary character.
An additional quality that Huck possesses is loyalty to others by always staying true to friends and standing up for what he believed in, even when race was an issue. When Huck was with Jim on the island, Jim feared Huck would turn him in. Huck, as a reliable friend, reassured Jim that he would not. "I said I wouldn't, and I'll stick to it. Honest injun I will. People would call me a low down Ablitionist and despise me for keeping mum-but that don't make no difference. I ain't agoing to tell"ÃÂ¦"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (45). Although Huck was brought up in a cruel atmosphere around Pap and was taught the segregationist ideas of the times, he developed the ability to be loyal which was shown through his actions reflecting how much he cared about Jim. When he went to the Loftus's house, he knew he had to get back to the camp to save Jim who was in danger of being caught and returned to slavery. Huck tried his best to save Jim and when he returned to the island, he did everything he could to help Jim escape. "Then I jumped in the canoe and dug out for our place a mile and a half below, as hard as I could go. "ÃÂGit up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain't a minute to lose. They're after us!' "Ã¯Â¿Â½ (69). Huck paddled very hard on the mile and a half canoe ride which was challenging for a young boy. All of his efforts led him to save Jim, but this was not the first time. Another time when they were on the river, two men approached Huck while he was going ashore. The men questioned Huck about whether the person on board the raft was white or black. "Is your man white or black?"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (111). Quickly Huck answered, "He's white"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (111). Although Huck covered for Jim, the men wanted to make sure that there was not a black man onboard. So quickly, Huck thought of a way to help Jim. He told the men that his father, who was onboard the raft, was sick and led them to think that his father had smallpox. The men did not want any contact with the disease. "We are right down sorry for you, but we-well, hang it we don't want the small-pox, you see"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (112). Because of Huck's allegiance to Jim, he was able to get Jim out of a disastrous situation. On the other hand, Huck continued to fight with himself on how he was supposed to deal with Jim and his family at home. One time Huck wrote a letter home telling Miss Watson where she could find Jim. Huck thought over the idea of sending the letter again and again in his head. In the end his devotion to Jim won and he tore up the letter. "I took it up, held it in my hand. I was trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: "ÃÂAll right, then, I'll go to hell-and tore it up' "Ã¯Â¿Â½ (242). Although it may not have been the right thing to do, according to what was the custom at the time, Huck's loyalty to Jim was strengthened. Jim was black and during their era, blacks were considered property. For a young boy to have shown commitment to a black man demonstrated that he was a very courageous person.
Another characteristic that makes a hero is the ability to be sensitive and to make decisions with your conscience. Huck was an impish child who did not seem to care about other people's thoughts or feelings. A person who is sensitive notices that others are doing wrong so he does not make the same mistake himself. Huck begins to be aware of the needs of others when he played the role of a servant to the King and Duke. The King and Duke pretended to be the brothers of the deceased Peter Wilks in order to steal the fortune from the Wilks daughters. When the King and Duke arrived they kissed and consoled the children of Peter Wilks. Huck was astonished to see the King and Duke acting like they really cared for the Wilks daughters because he did not agree with the trickery. He felt it was a horrible thing to fool the girls. "I never see anything so disgusting"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (190). Later Huck comments, "Because out of their mouths they can't, words being too weak and cold, and all that kind of rot and slush, till it was just sickening"ÃÂ¦"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (190). Now that Huck was more experienced, he realized what the King and Duke were doing and was able to give the appropriate emotional response. The King and Duke brought out many negative feelings from Huck especially when they tricked Mary Jane. "I says to myself, this is a girl that I'm letting that old reptle rob her of her money!"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (201). Huck felt terrible knowing what the King and Duke were doing to her and wished he could stop it. Huck decided to help Mary and he stole the money from the King and Duke to foil their plan. Huck learned to listen to his conscience when he was faced with the decision of turning Jim in but did not. "Conscience up and says, every time, "But you knowed he was running for his freedom, and you could a paddled ashore and told somebody"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (109). Jim had feelings for his family and he missed them. Huck recognized Jim's feelings, which confused him because Jim was black. "I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (181). Huck's empathy for Jim expresses Huck's true emotional morals. There are many situations in which Huck developed his sensitivity, as the trip went on. One time Huck was playing with a snake and killed it, not knowing he was disturbing another snake. The other snake, coming to find its mate, bit Jim and caused him much pain. Huck did not feel bad at this point because he did not admit that he had caused Jim's pain. Later, due to a near steamboat collision, Huck and Jim split up. Soon, down the river Huck found Jim already asleep. When Jim woke up, Huck described the whole event with the steamboat as if it had been a dream. When Jim became aware of the trick, Huck realized that he had hurt Jim's feelings and felt terrible. "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"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (94). Huck's movement from not being aware with the snake and then feeling sorry after the trick shows the development in his ability to listen to his conscience. In the beginning, Huck and his friends thought that killing and harming people was fun and of no consequence to them because they thought it was a joke. Later on, Huck had to deal with death happening before him. During Huck's journey he stayed with the Grangerfords who were involved in a family feud that had been going on for many years. On one of the days a dispute erupted and the boys that Huck had come to know were shot. "The boys jumped for the river-both of them hurt-and as they swum down the current the men run along the bank shooting at them and singing out, "ÃÂKill them, kill them!' It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (137). This time Huck had to confront death and the killing of others whom he had grown close to. This time death was not a joke. Huck's development gave him the gift to distinguish right from wrong. As evidenced by his sympathy toward the Wilks daughters, his compassion for Jim and realization of death, he became a person who was sensitive to the feelings of others.
Huck is often viewed as a naughty character. He does everything that one would consider wrong and not allow. Since Huck is mischievous he often finds himself in harmful situations. After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one becomes aware of the excellent qualities that Huck possesses. A model character should exhibit a variety of positive attributes. Huck's ability to be adaptable and resourceful helped him and his friends overcome the difficult situations they faced. Huck's loyalty to others, especially Jim, was shown many times. Huck also was unique because of his ability to overcome racial differences and see Jim as a friend. The final aspect that made Huck a model character was that he developed an ability to be sensitive and think with his conscience. Huck grew to become aware of his friend's feelings. Huck, having all of these characteristics, proves that he is a protagonist worthy of admiration and emulation