Religion in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay

622 Words 3 Pages
Religion in Huckleberry Finn

Religion is one of the most constant targets of Twain's satirical pen. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain portrays contemporary religion as shallow and hypocritical. He criticizes the hypocrisy of conventional religion by comparing it with the true religion of Huck.

Most of the characters in Huckleberry Finn, while ostensibly devout Christians, in reality behave in anything but a Christian way. Some use religion as a tool to obtain wealth. The king, who twice poses as a preacher, is the epitome of the greedy evangelist. His actions are, in Huck's words, "enough to make a body ashamed of the human race" (131). Many do not exploit religion, but most are hypocritical. For example, the
…show more content…
Huck has grown up in this society and has not escaped its influence. At first he too holds abolition to be a mortal sin punishable by an eternity in hell. However, Huck's religious outlook changes as his heart comes to dominate his mind. As he spends time with Jim, he comes to see Jim as a human being. At first the recognition of Jim's humanity is subconscious. When explaining to Mary Jane why she cannot immediately expose the king and the duke, he says, "I'd be all right, but there'd be another person [Jim] that you don't know about who'd be in big trouble" (149). Later Jim's humanity becomes obvious to him. He correctly concludes that he cannot pray "because [his] heart warn't right; it was because ... [he] was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of [him he] was holding on to the biggest one of all" (168-169). After hesitation, his heart completely conquers his mind. He rejects the morals of his society, declaring, "All right then, I'll go to hell" (169).

Huck's religion also changes as he encounters various influences, such as Miss Watson, the Widow Douglas, and Jim. For instance, his view of Providence is at first both unusual and humorous, as he concludes that there must be two Providences. Later, he comes to trust Providence in a truly devout way. He puts it this way:

I went right along, not fixing up any particular plan, but just trusting to
Open Document