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Situational Intelligence In Huck Finn

Decent Essays
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “In order to acquire intellect one must need it. One loses it when it is no longer necessary.” In a world filled with life-or-death decisions that occur within the splash of an oar, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn illustrates how Huck uses his intelligence, or lack thereof, as his current situation and familial circumstances sometimes lead him to abandon his judgement when it may not be “necessary”. Although Huck can be situationally acute in familiar situations, his lack of experience in the world and his immaturity show that his mind is a tabula rasa, or a blank slate, that leads him to to use a laissez-faire judgement towards people he has never dealt before.
To be successful in the
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So why the sudden laissez-faire attitude? His new attitude may be attributed to laziness, as he escapes from a potential sticky situation by doing what was easiest. Another example of Huck’s laziness is when he realizes that the self-proclaimed king and duke were lying, but he “never said nothing, never let on” (1365). Although he could have spoke out, he thought it “warn’t no use to tell Jim” (1365), so he just kept it to himself. Huck is also comfortable with laziness, as he says that “it was kind of lazy and jolly, laying off comfortable all day” (1304). Since Huck is “peck[ed]...all the time” (1304) by Miss Watson, he may be using his new power of laziness since it is comfortable for him.
Another possible reason for Huck’s passive judgement is his limited experience with people other than Pap. Huck’s mind embodies English philosopher John Locke’s theory of tabula rasa, which refers to “a state where in which a child is as formless as a blank slate” (Duschinsky 1). Life experiences are what eventually fills up their blank slates, and Huck’s ‘blank slate’ is only filled with his unstable home life with his drunk father. Thus, Huck is at a loss when confronted with different people such as the slave hunters, and prefers to do “whichever come handiest at the time” (Twain 344), and filling up his ‘blank slate’ with the experience.
But this brings up the question- does Huck actually learn
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