Huck Finn, the protagonist, made many story altering decisions throughout the novel. Three monumental decisions are lying to the bounty hunters about Jim, tearing up the letter to Miss Watson about Jim and himself, and hiding the gold the duke and the king conned out of the Wilks. Two of the choices by Huck decide the fate and freedom of a human being, Jim, making them very powerful decisions that he has to make. Huck often makes these decisions rashly but they turn out to work very well for him. The three important decisions and why and how he made them show deeply how Huck Finn thinks and feels.
One of Huck’s major decisions not involving Jim is turning his back on the king and the duke, by hiding the Wilks gold. Huck more or less goes along with the duke and the king’s plans until this one because of how nice the Wilks girls are to him. Huck had many choices and could have stuck with the duke and the king but changes his mind after Mary Jane and Susan are so nice to him and scold Joanna for questioning him. After Mary Jane scolds her Huck says to himself this is the girl I’m letting that old reptile rob of her money! (169).
Mary Jane and Susan make Joanna apologize to Huck and Joanna apologizes so beautiful it was good to hear (169). Joanna apologizing and Mary Jane and Susan sticking up for him makes Huck like them so much that he feels so ornery and low down and mean that I says to myself, my mind’s made up; I’ll hive that money for them or bust(169). Huck then goes to bed early and sneaks up to the king and dukes room to steal the money. When the king and the duke talk about just taking the six thousand they already have and knocking off and lighting out(170). it makes Huck feel pretty bad(170).
Huck feeling bad shows that he still believes what he is doing is right and wants to punish the king and the duke and have them get caught and shown for the frauds they are. Over the long term Huck does regret being involved in the downfall of the royalty, he says when he sees the king and the duke tarred and feathered that I felt sorry for them pitiful rascals. . . and felt kind of . . . to blame(222). Another major decision by Huck about Jim’s freedom is Huck deciding to rip up the letter he was going to write to Miss Watson about where Jim is being held until the reward is paid..
Huck decides to write the letter in chapter thirty-one after he discovers that Jim has been sold by the king and the duke for money. Huck can not think of a plan to get Jim free and has no idea where Jim is so he says to himself Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he’d got to be a slave, and so I’d better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss Watson where he was (204). Huck then thinks that if Jim is given back to Miss Watson he will be treated badly or sold down the river again for being ungrateful and trying to run away.
He also thinks that people will look at him badly for trying to help a slave run away. Huck is then hit by the hand of Providence (204). and believes that Jim was taken and sold because it is God’s way of saying that he will not allow people who help slaves to run away go unpunished. God watching over him makes Huck so scared that he decides to pray and try to become a good person. Huck tries to pray to become a good person, but knows that he will and does not want to become one, and he can not pray a lie. So Huck decides to write the letter then see if he can pray, and he felt light as a feather right straight off (205).
Huck then writes the letter to Miss Watson explaining about where Jim is and immediately feels good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now (206). Huck then goes on thinking about all the good times he had with Jim and how he said he was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now; (206). Huck is then at the climax of his decision, he knows he is the only person who can help Jim, who has been so nice to him all along and decides that All right, then, I’ll go to hell(206). And tears up the letter.
Huck immediately feels relieved and decides to take up wickedness again, showing that Huck believes he has made the right decision. One of Huck’s first major decisions about Jim’s freedom and whether to turn him in comes in chapter sixteen. Huck and Jim are heading down the river when Huck says he should paddle ashore and ask how far it is to Cairo. Huck then begins to feel bad about how he is helping a runaway slave and says to himself Well, I can tell you it made me all over trembly and feverish, too, to hear him, because I begun to get it through my head that he was most free and who was to blame for it? Why me . What had poor Miss Watson done to you that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? (85).
Huck has a moral crisis about whether to turn Jim in or not, mainly because he thinks that helping a slave run away is stealing from someone who was been nothing but nice to him. Jim, possibly unintentionally, persuades Huck to not turn him in by saying as he paddles away to a bounty hunter raft that You’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de only fren’ ole Jim’s got now . . . Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his promise to old Jim (87).
Jim saying those things makes Huck feel so bad about wanting to turn him in that when the bounty hunters ask if the man on his raft is black or white he answers white. Huck’s first reaction about him lying and not turning Jim in is that he feels as if he has done wrong and does not feel good about not turning him in. He then says S’pose you’d a’ done right and give Jim up, would you felt better than you do now? No says I, I’d feel bad . . . (89). With both Huck’s perceived right and wrong choices resulting in him feeling bad he decides that After this always do whichever comes handiest at the time.
Huckleberry Finn makes many story altering decisions on his journey down the Mississippi river. He meets and becomes friends with many new friends and has to constantly make decisions about them and what is going on around him. Huck often makes these important decisions based on his strong friendships with many characters and that he rarely turns his back on his friends. Huck’s choices directly affect the lives of Jim, the king, and the duke. Huck makes the moral choice in every one of his major decisions, even though he was raised by an immoral person.