And what’s more, the sharpest decline was in conformity to pro-social behaviors. Jim is an adult—and an adult who has become a whole lot like a parent to Huck throughout their adventures, protecting him and taking care of him (and later, of Tom as well) much as a parent would.And the behavior that he wants from Huck, when he wants anything at all, is prosocial in the extreme (an apology, to take the most famous example, for playing a trick on him in the fog; not much of an ask, it seems, unless you stop to consider that it’s a slave asking a white boy to acknowledge that he was in the wrong). And his demands are far closer to the anti-social side of the scale.Twain might have offended on other accounts, but there is one thing he got right: not only do so if he were a flesh-and-blood twelve year old fresh off a rafting adventure.
The behavior becomes even understandable when we add in a few more variables.
Before we rush to judge Huck—and to criticize Twain for veering so seemingly off course—we’d do well to consider a few key elements of the situations.
First, Huck is a thirteen (or thereabouts)-year-old boy. What’s more, he is a teenager from the antebellum South.
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