In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the main character, Huckleberry Finn is an early teenager living along the banks of the Mississippi River. He spends his time getting into mischief along with his friend Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain tells the story exclusively from Huck’s viewpoint, which creates a unique perspective. The story is a somewhat realistic portrayal of life in the late nineteenth century along with all the embellishment of a young boy’s imagination. The story is filled with adventure, danger, and challenges to be faced. Throughout these challenges, Huck epitomizes loyalty. He is especially loyal to his friends. He remains loyal even when his choices could have a serious negative impact.
The first example of loyalty appears when Huck first meets up with Jim. Huck is faced with a very important decision. He must decide whether or not he should help free the runaway slave Jim. He knows that it could mean severe consequences if he helps Jim. On the other hand, Huck believes that helping a friend in need is important. Slavery was commonplace and Huck has always been taught that slavery is moral and acceptable. After much soul-searching, Huck agreed to help Jim to freedom even though it goes against the conventions of the time. He went against his ingrained ideas and proves himself loyal to his friend Jim, regardless of race or ideas. Huck’s adventures with Jim become central to the plot as well as the primary example of Huck’s loyalty.
Huck’s loyalty is tested as Jim gets closer to freedom. When Jim thinks he spies Cairo and the mouth of the Ohio River, Huck begins to have second thoughts. He realizes that he would be blamed if word got out that he helped a slave to freedom. Huck convinces Jim it would be a good idea to ask some passing rafters if the town in the distance is indeed Cairo. Huck has his mind made up to spill his guts, when Jim calls out flattering remarks to Huck…
“Jim won’t ever forgit you, Huck; you’s de bes’ fren’ Jim’s ever had; en you’s de only fren’ ole Jim’s got now.” (86-7)
This dialogue is a very effective way to get the reader to feel what Huck felt. It places emotions such as guilt or shame into the reader. Huck realizes that betraying Jim felt like the wrong thing to do. Again, Huck forsakes his own self interest and decides that he is going to do the right thing no matter what the consequences. That is true loyalty. It would have been just as easy for Huck to turn Jim in right then and there. He probably would have benefited socially and financially for such an act. Yet he doesn’t turn Jim in. The only explanation is that Huck believes in loyalty and can not stand to betray a friend.
Other characters in the story also display loyalty. Not only is the loyalty between Huck and Jim is mutual, but Jim displays loyalty to Tom Sawyer as well. Near the end of the story, a bullet wounds Tom Sawyer as he, Jim, and Huck flee a posse. Jim chooses to sacrifice his chance of freedom rather than leave Tom Sawyer behind. Even Tom himself is loyal to both Huck and Jim. He has to undergo the same moral struggle as Huck. He must decide whether or not to help Jim; or if he should turn him in as he has been taught. Looking at this example, one can draw an important conclusion about loyalty. It is that loyalty begets loyalty in return. Loyalty between Huck, Jim, and Tom is both openly displayed and reciprocated.
The theme of loyalty in the story can be applied today. Loyalty is a necessity in today’s world. It would be a cold and inhuman place if people were not loyal to one another. No one would trust anyone else. The story also raises the question about going against the majority and doing the right thing. One of life’s hardest tests is staying true and loyal even when faced with adverse consequences. The novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides an enjoyable story, in addition to an example of true loyalty.