In the novel the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck is tormented by his actions in helping Jim escape from his rightful owner. He even considered doing the “right thing” and telling Miss Watson what he had done and deliver Jim back to her. He thought Jim might be better off as a slave near his family.
Huck gave up on that idea because no doubt Miss Watson would not accept anything from him because of Jim’s rascality and ungratefulness. After all, the slave should have been grateful, Huck thought, for having such a good master as Miss Watson. Miss Watson would likely sell Jim down the river again because “everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger.” After all, Huck was also scared that everyone would find out that Huck had disgraced himself by helping Jim escape. This is what he thought about that”
“And then think of me! It would get around that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was ever to see anybody from that town I’d be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame.”
But that was only the half of it. After all he committed a sin. As Huck said,
“Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I wasn’t so much to blame, but something inside of me kept saying, “There was the Sunday school, you couldn’t ‘a’ gone to it; and if you’d ‘a’ done it they’d ‘a’ learnt you there that people that acts as I’d been acting about the nigger goes to everlasting fire.”
Huck even tried prayer. On his knees filled with repentance for what he’d done. But he couldn’t do it:
“But the words wouldn’t come out. Why wouldn’t they come? warn’t no use to run and hide it from Him. Nor from me neither. I knew very well why they wouldn’t’ come. It was because my heart warn’t right’ it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can’t pray a lie.”
Helping Jim, Huck believed was a sin that would lead him to hell, yet he did anyway. Huck was greatly relieved when he realized this because he knew he had done a very bad thing. As Huck said,
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had felt so good in all my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight of, but laid the paper down and set there thinking—thinking how good it was all this happened and so how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And I went on thinking over our trip down the river and and I see Jim before me all the time; in the day and in the night time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along dark, talking’ singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind
No matter what ideology he had been brought up with, Huck was able to break out of it. He just couldn’t be a supporter of slavery no matter how sinful he thought that made him. His natural goodness burst through the chains of ideology. He was prepared to go to hell if necessary.