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Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn: Money As Root Of All Evil

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Money always leads people to believe that it can obtain them anything. Especially in large sums which lets oneself believe in making any fantasy come true, but believing in something that extreme, will end up poorly. Two classic literature novels, The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain both have a repeating theme of money through each book. Gatsby is a mysterious man who throws extravagant parties and Huck Finn is a teenage boy who is thoughtful and enjoys going on adventures. Both of these characters come across great volumes of money. These large sums of cash end up leading spiteful events to both main characters in each novel. Money also has a controlling aspect within the society of each book. Lastly, money in each novel is shown to cause greed within characters. With characters placing too much hope on the acquisition of wealth to bring happiness, it instead leads to sadness and grief.

In each novel acquiring money only seems to attract In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when Huck acquires a large sum of money it causes his deadbeat father, “Pap,” to come back into his life to try and take his money from him. Until Huck becomes old enough so that Pap does not have claim anymore, Huck sells his money to Judge Thatcher for one dollar to Huck’s money safe for him. When Huck returns home from selling his money, Pap is waiting there for him and demands that Huck gives him the money, “Pap he hadn’t been seen for more than a year, and that was comfortable for me; I didn’t want to see him no more. He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me; though I used to take to the woods most of the time when he was around.” (Twain 13) Huck felt safer without his father around and has no interest in Pap coming back into his life. Huck’s father is extremely ignorant and abuses Huck regularly. He also tells Huck that he is not allowed to go to school anymore because he does not want Huck to become smarter than him. Pap even goes as far as kidnapping Huck and takes him to a hut near the river where he would become drunk and abuse Huck constantly.

Without the great sum of money that Huck obtained, Pap would have never come back into Huck’s life. The pull of money is so strong for Pap that he does not leave Hucks life until Pap is killed. Similarly, in The Great Gatsby, Gatsby had also obtained a large sum of wealth to his name. However, Gatsby obtained his money through bootlegging alcohol. ‘He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong.'(Fitzgerald 143) Gatsby only wanted to obtain this large amount of money so that he could impress Daisy, a lover of Gatsby who promised to wait for him when he left to fight in the war. He believes that they were meant to be together but she instead married Tom Buchanan, a young man from an aristocratic family. He knows that Daisy is attracted to rich men and values the security that Tom, her husband, provides her. Although Tom may be a brute and pays no attention to Daisy, he pleases her with a luxurious lifestyle and has the support from Daisy’s parents. Although Gatsby wants Daisy to love him, she does not and chooses to be with Tom instead. Gatsby, in the process of trying to attract Daisy with his money, instead draws people who only want to be around Gatsby because of his large sum of money and use him for the parties he throws. He is surrounded by people who like him but do not love him. By acquiring large sums of wealth to their names Huck and Gatsby both attract things that make them unhappy. Huck attracts his abusive dad who uses him to get alcohol while Gatsby attracts people who only use him for his large sum of money and the parties he throws.

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Within each novel, there is a theme of how money controls a class system and separates the rich from the poor and the civil from the uncivil. In Huckleberry Finn, Huck lives with the Widow Douglas who attempts to civilize him but Huck does not want any part of this and wants to choose his own path. Huck views being civilized as a loss of freedom and would rather be free than be like everyone else. The civil wear stiff and uncomfortable clothes that irritate Huck’s skin compared to his father who wears raggedy clothes and is free to do as he pleases. Even though Huck’s father beats and abuses him, he still wishes to live a free life because that is all Huck knows “The Widow Douglas, she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer, I lit out.” (Twain 1). Huck decides that he does not want to be part of the working class because of how horrible it is as later on in the book he sees that people(…) . Later in the book, he also sees how cruel In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby is rich but he is part of the newly rich that comes from “new money” resulting in him being not respected. He wants to win back Daisy but he cannot as she comes from Tom’s “old money” and is part of a different class. People that come from the “old money class” do not work and spend their days looking for activities to keep them entertained. They are often seen as careless as they can do whatever they want and have their money to shield them “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” (Fitzgerald 179). Tom and Daisy are not people who should be idolized because really they are just spoiled children who don’t care who their actions affect unless it concerns them directly. Daisy kills Myrtle, the woman Tom was having an affair with, while driving Gatsby’s car. After Myrtle’s death, Daisy panics and drives off. Back in her home in East Egg Gatsby assures Daisy that he will take the blame even though he was not the one that killed Myrtle. Tom tells George, Myrtle’s husband, that it was Gatsby that killed Myrtle. After hearing this George goes to Gatsby’s mansion and kills him then turns the gun onto himself. After Gatbys assassination, Tom and Daisy flee East Egg and give no forwarding address to where they are now. This selfishness that the “old money” class comes from prevented Gatsby from being with Daisy. Even though he took the blame for Daisy most likely out of love it ended with his death. This class system is prevalent in both novels, Huck sees that the “civil working class” is very hypocritical and Gatsby being a humble man is separated from the “old money” class and it leads to his death.

In each title, money causes greed which in turn, leads to sorrow. In Huckleberry Finn, Huck comes across two conmen, The King and The Duke, who will do anything just to scam a few dollars out of innocent people. When The King and The Duke become upset that they have run out of money they decide to plan another con. When The King goes into town, Huck and The Duke look for him only to find him drinking in a bar. When Huck sees the opportunity to run away from The King and The Duke, he attempts to make an escape. He goes to the raft that he and Jim, an escaped slave who becomes good friends with Huck, have been using only to find that Jim is not there. Eventually, Huck finds out that The King has sold Jim to another man for $40 and spent it all on alcohol. ‘No! That old fool sold him, and never divided with me, and the money’s gone’ (Twain 178). The Duke explains to Huck how The King sold Jim and he is upset because The King never split the money with him. Huck sees now how cruel people can be when there is money involved and is upset that The King would sell Jim, who Huck sees as another person, for a measly $40 just to get drunk. Also, In “The Great Gatsby” the main character, Gatsby, becomes hungry for more and more money for the single purpose of attracting Daisy. He is not greedy for the money itself but instead of what he can achieve through all the money. Gatsby realises that Daisy has married rich and in order to win her back he must either exceed the wealth of his competitor or at least be equal. It is for this reason that Gatsby throws such lavish parties and own such a huge mansion. They are attempts to draw Daisy closer to him. Eventually, when he takes Daisy on a tour of his mansion he shows Daisy shirts from his collection and she begins to cry because she has never seen such stunning shirts before. ‘They’re such beautiful shirts, she sobbed, her muffled in the folds. It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts.’ (Fitzgerald 59). Daisy is very materialistic and can be bought over very easily she is bewildered by the man that Gatsby has become and is so excited about how rich he has become she cannot contain herself any longer. Gatsby now has been somewhat victorious in reaching his goal of winning back Daisy but his end attempt to win her over ends in an upset. In the final encounter between Gatsby and Tom, Daisy draws further away from Gatsby and goes towards Tom as he wins her back with affection that they once shared that Gatsby could never compete with. Gatsby’s hunger for more money to win Daisy back only lead to a partial success but ultimately lead to his demise. Both Huck and Gatsby realise that money can change the way people act and think. Huck sees how The King sold Huck’s friend Jim for a petty $40 and Gatsby sees even though his ambition was strong to win Daisy back, his money could never compete with Toms affection.

Two American classics, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby, show that even though money can bring a little bit of hope and grant you partial success, placing too much acquisition can lead to one’s downfall. Huck and Gatsby share similar experiences within each title. Huck and Gatsby both attract things that make them unhappy. Huck gets the attention of his deadbeat father who he has not seen in over a year and Gatsby attracts the attention of everyone except Daisy. These people use him for his money and parties that he throws. Huck and Gatsby are also separated by classes within society. Huck is isolated from civilization because he chooses to “uncivil”. Similarly, Gatsby is separated because he comes from “new money” rather than “old money”. Both of these groups, those who are civilized and those who come from new money, both have the main focus (…). Lastly, both novels dive into how money causes greed within people. Huck sees that people will do anything for a few dollars, even if that means ditching any morals they may have had. When The King sells Jim for $40 dollars Huck sees that this “civilized” society is actually far from it and this upsets Huck. Gatsby is instead the victim to greed as he becomes obsessed with the idea that more money will allow him to be with Daisy but falls short due to Tom being able to provide money as well as affection. With the theme of money being so prevalent is each novel it

Work Cited

  1. Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Random House, 1996. Print.

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Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn: Money As Root Of All Evil. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
“Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn: Money As Root Of All Evil.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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