There are two different ideals of American society conceived by “The United States of Huck” author, George Saunders. These two ideals are the United States of Huck and the United States of Tom. In the United States of Huck, people are concerned with the reality of what they actually see, not what they hear about or read about. Citizens are all for fair play and equal treatment of their peers. Contradictorily, in the United States of Tom, citizens neglect what they see in front of them and base their belief systems off of the knowledge they achieve from books, news, and other types of social translators. Commonly, the people of the United States of Tom deny the misery of others and rather prioritize their own well-being. With this being said, over time, the real citizens of the United States of America have been torn between which system they most commonly fall under, however, in today’s society, we live in the United States of Tom because, naturally, people are selfish and self concerned.
As the United States of Tom ultimately defines America, there are some similarities between society today and the United States of Huck because each day the world is becoming more and more accepting. Examples of this acceptance is shown from the gradual shift towards racial equality especially with blacks, which started at slavery, followed by their emancipation, continued into the cruel 1960s and now, most of the time, blacks are regarded with equal treatment, however it is still far from perfect. In addition, the gradual acceptance of the LGBT community also shows that today’s society follows the beliefs of the United States of Huck because, it may have taken a while, but overall America is interested in equal treatment no matter your sexual orientation. As this may be the case, this is not enough to argue that America is living in the United States of Huck.
Today’s society falls under the United States of Tom because humans are innately selfish. Especially in such a harsh and hostile environment like today’s society, due to competition and natural selection, humans are ultimately worried about what will be more advantageous for themselves and do not worry about the consequences. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this side of society is shown when Tom is planning Jim’s escape from the barn. Although the escape could be easily executed, Tom creates wild obstacles for Jim to overcome with the purpose of making himself seem clever and without understanding that Jim’s freedom and life were on the line. This side of the United States is especially shown in today’s society as the upper class is growing increasingly angry about the rising taxes that are being used to aid the poorest sections of the population. The upper class does not want to pay the taxes because they believe they have worked hard for their money and do not believe that they should have to give it up, despite the benefit less fortunate people receive from the increased taxes. This shows that people are prioritizing their own well-being at the expense of others’ misery.
In conclusion, the United States of America is truly living as the United States of Tom, because, although there have been gradual advances to advocate for Huck’s ideal America, there is not enough evidence to support that today’s society overall is concerned with what will benefit everyone as opposed to what will benefit themselves individually. Because of people’s innate inclination to be selfish, American society, and the whole world for that matter, will always be living in the United States of Tom.