Friday, March 3, 2017

United States of Mind: Huck and Tom in the American Dream

To say that all of America can fall into the category or has the mindset of either Huck or Tom is preposterous. There are certainly subcultures and predominant ideologies that follow each of the two distinct characters. I like to think that following the American Dream and continuing our pursuit of an efficient and healthy society will bring us into the United States of Huck.
Huck cares about other people. He is willing to adapt and become a new person, Huck is flexible person who is open to knew ideologies that might even be in direct contradiction to what he was taught as a child. I think that aspects of Huck's character are extremely valuable not only to an individual but also a society as a whole. If a society can adapt to new ideas and change its mind like Huck, then it will be a society that is open minded and will flourish. It is my belief that in the United States today, there is a significant portion of the population that lives in the United States of Huck. In both mind and action.Tom changes his stance on slavery throughout the book. At first, he does not question the institution. Slavery was something he was used to and embraced. As his friendship with Jim evolved he turned his back on the ideals he was taught and decided to help Jim gain freedom. He was going to send a letter revealing where Jim was but he ripped it up, Huck figured that if society said that was the wrong thing to do and he would go to hell, he would rather go to hell for not doing what he was taught was right. How Huck changed his mind and acted against slavery is a process that holds a lot of value. The ability to change and re-evaluate things you have been taught is crucial for America today, and any functioning society.
Tom has a lot of internal focus; he takes what he has and projects it outwards. Tom imposes his view on other people. He also lacks the compassion that Huck has. Tom has no problem with the idea of taking from other people and not helping those in need. He figures that if he worked to get where he is he should not have to help anyone else. Today, Tom can represent many people and groups of people. In America, there are undeniably Tom-like groups of people. Early on in the Adventures of Huckelberry Finn Tom convinces a group of kids to join his gang and makes them all swear to an outrageous set of rules. If you cannot see how some people in American today push their ideas and beliefs onto others like Tom, you may be living in the United States of Tom.
The United States of Huck and The United States of Tom both exist today, though I would rather live in the United States of Huck.

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