The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn discussion

Official: Is Huck a Hero?

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Kristin As promised...
In your opinion, is Huck an Epic Hero (or Archetypal Hero) based on Joseph Campbell's definition? Use at least two citations (from the worksheet, movie, critical paper, or class discussion) in your answer.

Kristy Lavoie Huckleberry Finn does not directly fit the description of an Archetypal hero, which has lead me to believe that he is, instead, an Epic Hero. Archetypal Heros follow a certain pattern, or guideline, one that Huck does not clearly follow. One of these guidelines is the "Supernatural Aid"(Joseph Campbell, notes). Huck does not have a supernatural aid, although he does have Jim. Jim acts as his aid, taking on the role of a father figure throughout the book. Jim may be an aid, but he is not supernatural. Another guideline that has not been met, which has lead me to believe that Huck is an Epic hero, is the guideline of "Sacred Marriage"(Joseph Campbell, notes). Huck is just a young boy, who is not remotely close to getting married, or even finding a significant other. Therefore, Huck does not meet the requirements of becoming an Archetypal Hero.

message 3: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Champoux I also agree with Kristy in the sense that Huckleberry Finn does not fit the description of the Archetypal hero, but rather an Epic Hero. He doesn't quite follow Joseph Campbells 9 steps that a character must follow to be seen as an archetypal hero. One of the steps would be Apotheosis; which tells of how the hero is idealized in some way after completing a difficult challenge. In a sense that is true for Huck because it happens for him from the reader but not from the society that he rejects. Huck isn't worshiped in anyway by his society. Also in one of Joseph Campbell's steps, Freedom to Live, it tells of how if the hero is successful on their journey and excepted back into their old world they are free to live. In a way this isn't true for Huck because he decides to reject his society after his journey and venture off to live by himself. All in all, Huck is seen more as an Epic Hero rather than an Archetypal Hero.

message 4: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Although Huck Finn completed aspects of Joseph Campbell's guidelines on a hero's journey, he is not an archetypal hero. Joseph Campbell laid out specific stages that a hero needs to experience in order to be classified as one and Huck does not complete or even come across some that are very important to that hero definition. Campbell did state that it is allowed to loosely adhere to the definition but Huck's adventure is missing crucial pieces. Huck does not complete an "apotheosis."(Joseph Campbell, notes) He is not glorified for any task he completed. This is a very important part in being a hero, having something to be praised for. He also did not "return to the threshold."(Joseph Campbell, notes) After Jim situation settled, Huck states that he cannot stand to be civilized, and leaves to the wild west. Therefore, he did not complete a necessary hero stage. The steps a hero must take, that are weighed heavily in the guidelines are incomplete, leaving the decision that Huck Finn is not an archetypal hero.

message 5: by Kevin (last edited Nov 18, 2011 09:33AM) (new)

Kevin Hines Huck Finn is not an Archetypal hero, he goes through some of the tasks an archetypycal hero, but like Melanioe said, he doesn't 'return to the thresold'. The way Twain sets up the story make it hard for huck to to an epic hero, because Huck rejects society because it is bad, and with an regular epic hero,society helps him out on his journey, and the hero would want to return, not like Huck. Another aspect of being an epic hero would be to go on a journey where you are rising above all els. Huck's journey is when he runs away with a black slave and hide from all of society, and to live life the way that they fing morally correct. Huck also, does not want to change the world. Huck sees that the society in which he lives in is flawed to no extent, but would rather ignore it and make his life elsewhere. it is unfair to assume that an young adolescent could yield the power to change society if he wanted to. He views society and the people in it as one whole. so being slave owners is just who they are. Huck only wishes to separate himself from that lifestyle and does not create a change.

message 6: by Erin (new)

Erin Higgins Being an Archetypal hero requires many steps in order or someone to acquire that title. Huck Finn does not work through all of these, therefore he is not an Archetypal hero. Any improvements that he completes do not impact the world around him, and all of these heroes must do this. After finishing what Huck sent out or, he rejects society at the end of the book. Personally, I believe this means that he has come to terms with society and realizes he belongs somewhere else. Either way, he does not return to the original place with a new and important change. If a character is to become an Archetypal hero he must ATLEAST complete these two crucial stages, which he does not.

message 7: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Fontannay I agree with others who have said Huck is an Epic Hero rather than an Archetypal Hero. Huck did not have an "unusual circumstance of birth", a "special weapon only he can wield", or many other of the requirements of an Archetypal Hero. Huck does, however, possess many of the qualities of an Epic Hero. He is thrown into his adventure as he ecsapes from his abusive father, which is the first step of his journey as an epic hero. While he has no real "Supernatural Aid", Jim fills this role on his adventure. The list goes on, and most of Jim Campbell's thoughts on what makes an Epic Hero are fitted in with Huck Finn and his journey.

message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Minichiello I also agree that Huck Finn is an Epic Hero. Huck, as stated, does not follow all the steps of an Archetypal Hero. Without following the steps, he cannot be the sterotype of "Archetypal Hero". Huck does not impact the world or society in any way. He may change his own life, but not really because he ends up rejecting being civilized in the end anyways. By not impacting socety he cannot be a "Archetypal Hero".

message 9: by Kaitlyn (new)

Kaitlyn Gordon Huck does not fit Campbell's description of an archetypal hero. Some of the reasons that have lead me to this conclusion are the fact that Finn does not go through "an unusual circumstance of birth" and he does not "return the the threshold" at the end of the book. By the end of the book, Huck has not made any impact on society; he has only made an impact on the reader. He doesn't return to his home up north, but decides to travel to the west, depressingly displaying that he doesn't feel that he can be accepted in the societies of either the north or the south. There is also no "supernatural aid" that helps him along; Jim is basically his only aid, and he's a black slave. These specifics disable Huck Finn from being classified as an archetypal hero, but I consider him a hero to the reader. He changed the way that I view a lot of things since we're in a different time period than the book was set in, but wasn't able to effect society in a positive light.

message 10: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Sullivan Although Huck did not fit Campbell's description of an archetypal hero to a tee, it is not an outlandish statement to call him one. Firstly, nowhere in the reading does Campbell say that every aspect of his guideline must be met. Although there is the return aspect of the journey that is in no way met by Huck Finn, one part of it is. That part is the "refusal of return" (Campbell, notes). So, since Huck started the return process there is a possibility that Twain left the novel without a completion of this process purposefully. There is also the fact that in the beginning of the notes where aspects of an archetypal hero are list as "common characteristics", which is just further evidence that not every archetypal hero needs to follow Campbell's exact blueprint (Davis, notes).

Dustin Thibeault Huck Finn doesn't fit Campbell's description of a Archetype hero in a few ways one because huck doesnt meet the common characteristics of a Archetype such as the fact huck wasnt "born into royalty" and doesnt reach "atonement with the father". But Huck does does meet the criteria of an epic hero, huck doesnt choose his adventure but is "thrown into the adventure". also Huck will "leave the world he/she has always known... and venture into the unknown. these are a few of the many reasons Huck Finn is a epic hero.

Jessica im sorry i'm late on the update.. I couldn't find it! but regardless; in my opinion Huck fits the Archetypal Hero. Huck was thrown into adventure, he had to overcome many obsticles, and he refuses to return to the "civilized world". I agree with ben in that Campbell doesn't specifically state that the hero must complete every single step to become the "Archetypal Hero". I belive Huck hits enough of those steps to be considered an epic hero.

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Amanda Angelo I'd have to say that Huck Finn doesnt fit this hero description perfectly. He is an obvious example for some such as "leaves family or land and lives with others" or the "refusal of return," but is also missing many requirements. Just as others have mentioned, Campbell does say that a hero doesn't need to have every step but he does have most of them, so i would consider him an archetypal hero.

Mariah I agree with some of my classmates in saying that Huck does not fit the fairytale hero of "a son born of royalty" or " finding his father" but Cambell states a hero is someone who stives for their own bliss. Which is what Huck does. He is thrown into adventure and over comes obsticals in his journey. So huck doesnt really fit in any pre-set mold of a hero, he makes his own mold and seems perfectly happy with it.

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Blaine Ham I think that even though he doesn't fit the actaul hero image. I think he is probabley imaged as one

Jimbo You might as well ask, Is Huck a gas pump?

Arunava Ghose A 'Hero' as in Theatre? Not really (or should the response be - "Is Huck a gas pump?").
In today’s world? Perhaps a fascinating character – playing on the mind of the reader with complete array of heightened emotions, very much akin to that of a 'Hero' in a modern novel.
I prefer knowing Huck as a part of our modern conscience. A bundle of complex but humane sensibility.

Scott Holmes Huckleberry Finn is not heroic. He does nothing that can be considered truly heroic. Even that one fateful scene where he decides to help Jim escape he is not being heroic. He is only coming to terms with his own perception of himself. He does not choose to help Jim because it is the right thing to do. He chooses to help Jim because "I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it. ..."

Scott Holmes Here is a wonderful essay on this very question:

Michael Sussman Scott wrote: "Huckleberry Finn is not heroic. He does nothing that can be considered truly heroic. Even that one fateful scene where he decides to help Jim escape he is not being heroic. He is only coming to ..."

I completely disagree, Scott.

Huck helps Jim because he feels in his gut that it's the right thing to do, and because he likes and respects Jim, despite what he has learned growing up in a racist culture which insists that the African-American slaves are inferior to whites, and despite his religious education which tells him that he will go to Hell for this "sin."

Scott Holmes I suspect most people actually agree with you. We all want our heros to be heroic. This does put you in a spot of explaining his backsliding with the final Tom Sawyer chapters. This is what the scientific american blog article is about.

Michael Sussman I agree with the author of the article. Huck's backsliding is understandable, given his age and our human tendency toward conformity. That doesn't necessarily negate that he underwent an inner transformation over the course of his journey.

Huck is a flawed hero, which is truer to real life than a perfect, idealized one.

Tiger If we read Realism we ll get to this point with Huck's ID "Realistic Characterization

There is the belief among the Realists that humans control their destinies; characters act on their environment rather than simply reacting to it. Character is superior to circumstance."

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