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adventures of huckleberry finn

Is the ending of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a moral closure?


Before we discuss whether or not Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn has a sense of moral closure, we need to discuss whether Mark Twain intended for his book to have morals in it. Twain included a comical notice at the start of his novel that reads,

PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Twain claims that he did not intend for his story to have a plot or a moral; he claims that the novel is simply telling a story. Most readers agree that he is joking, though. This is especially apparent through Huck's extreme interest in morality. By the end of the book, good comes to most of the characters who do good, and punishment comes to most of the characters who do wrong. Through this, Twain suggests his own judgment of the characters' actions in the novel.

For instance, Huck's drunkard father, who physically abused him and even threatened his life by chasing him around with a knife, ends up dying (chapter 39). Jim tells Huck,

Don' you 'member de house dat was float'n down de river, en dey wuz a man in dah, kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn't let you come in? Well, den, you kin git yo' money when you wants it, kase dat wuz him (chapter 43).

This passage reveals that Huck's father is dead. It also shows how Huck no longer has to fear that his father might steal the fortune that he found in Tom Sawyer. Huck, who learned to treat Jim kindly even when his society did not, has a happy ending. Jim also has a happy ending when he finds out that he is free. Huck tells Jim,

Now, old Jim, you're a free man again, and I bet you won't ever be a slave no more (chapter 40).

Other characters, such as the "duke" and the "king," have less fortunate endings. These characters, who regularly steal money from innocent people through lies and deceptions, end up tarred and feathered at the end of the story:

I knowed it was the king and the duke, though they was all over tar and feathers, and didn't look like nothing in the world that was human—just looked like a couple of monstrous big soldier plumes (chapter 33).

Generally, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn affirms the goodness of some characters through their happy endings. Many of the wicked characters, such as Pap and the duke and king, come to unfortunate ends.

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