As Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) once said, "Of all the animals, man is the only one that is
cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it." Twain had this in mind
when he was composing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Throughout this masterpiece there
are several strange, yet realistic accounts of human behavior. The purpose of this novel was to
inform the reader on the cruel, strange and undeniably true behavior of our own kind, more
specifically Twain intended on this being an anti-slavery / anti-racism novel.
Throughout the novel Huckleberry Finn there are several accounts of human kindness,
which are immediately followed by human cruelty. One for example is when Huck encounters a
few men that are looking for runaway slaves. Huck tells them a brilliant story to keep them away
from the raft. " Poor devil, there's something in that. We are right down sorry for you... Now we
are trying to do you a kindness... here I will put a twenty dollar piece on this board and you get it
when it floats by..."( Twain 88). This passage shows the reader that most humans have sympathy
for their own kind. That sympathy being directed towards Huck and his father, who according to
Huck, has come down with smallpox. Further into the reading we find more information from the
same man," If you see any runaway niggers you get help and nab them, and you can make some
money by it. "( Twain 88). This is almost an exact opposite of sympathy for the human race. One
may perceive this to be a defense mechanism used to keep themselves safe from the possibility of
getting smallpox. This shows us the characters true selfishness. Though they may give money to
try and express their sympathy, it's highly doubtful that the characters actually felt sorry for Huck
and his father. If indeed the characters had cared about Huck and his father they would have stayed
with Huck and asked if they could help. Instead the two men decide that it's more important to
capture slaves for money.
Almost all accounts of strange behavior are due to race, leading the reader to believe that
Twain intended Huckleberry Finn to be an anti-slavery / anti-racism novel. Thus there are several
sections of the novel that show equality between the races. " What makes me fell so bad dis time
'uz bekase I heard sumpn over yonder... like a wack er a slam... en it mine me er de time I treat my
little 'Lizabeth so ornery..."( Twain 150) Jim continues to tell the reader more about the situation.
" [Lizabeth] Doan' you hear me?... En wid dat I fetch a slap side de head dat sont her
a-sprawlin..." (Twain 151). During the explanation of this event Jim is in tears. Later on we learn
that Lizabeth is deaf. Jim felt extremely guilty for hitting her because it wasn't her fault that she
didn't hear him. The fact that Jim remembered this, and the fact that he still feels guilty about it
shows that he has just as much, if not more, sympathy for humans than the other characters in the
novel. By this Twain is expressing his idea of equality between the races. Another section that tells
the reader that this is an anti-slavery / anti-racism book is the situation in which Huck tricks Jim.
After Huck tricks Jim he says the following, " It made me feel so mean I could have kissed his foot
to get him to take it back... I wouldn't have done it if I'd 'a' knowned it would make him feel that
way." ( Twain 84). This is a perfect example of strange behavior, Huck purposely inflicts pain on
Jim for the pleasure of doing it. Far after Huck apologizes he thinks about putting Jim back into
slavery. Another point to consider is during the novel Jim is Huck's best friend, thus showing that
Jim is good enough to be Huck's friend. If Huck was caught he would be in a lot of trouble. Huck
is putting himself on the line to show the equality between himself and Jim.
In conclusion one can see the several accounts of strange behavior found in the novel The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Most of these accounts deal with barriers between two different
races. In the novel nearly all of the barriers between the races are broken. Therefore, one can easily
see that Twain intended this novel to be an anti-slavery/ anti-racism book. As Twain once said,
"I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a
man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse." Follow Twain's example
and stop the strange behavior.