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Huckleberry Finn and Tale of Two Cities

Both Sydney Carton of A TALE OF TWO CITIES and Huck Finn of THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLBERRY FINN face a significant number of choices in their respective narratives. For Huck, he is faced in one instance with remaining with his abusive father who has kidnapped him or leaving to return home, a situation that could prove dangerous given the instability of his father. In Carton’s case, one of the choices that he faces centers on his own life or death as he opts to exchanging places with Darnay prior to Darnay’s execution.

While one would assume that this automatically makes Carton’s choice more difficult than Huck’s, the reality is that Huck’s choice is more profoundly impacting. To a great extent, Huck is faced with the choice of staying with his father vs. going back to the life that he has now become familiar and what he calls his home. Granted, while his father is abusive and dangerous, he still remains his father and this creates a certain union that he prefers not to break.

That is to say, he could have escaped from his fathers clutches and returned home where he could have been protected from his father’s threats, but rather Huck opted to fake his own death. In doing this, he ends his relationship with his father and starts life anew. In doing this, he is no longer a burden to his new family and he “frees” his father or forcing a relationship with Huck that can prove incredibly dangerous for the both of them. So, Huck’s faking of his own death not only is an act of self preservation, but also one of selflessness as he saves his father and his other family from a potentially dangerous situation.

Huck’s actions become more profound because Carton’s life was over before it had begun as he was a failure and a drunkard. His giving up his own life was an act of self redemption as opposed to Huck’s action which was more of selflessness as opposed to merely acting as pure self preservation. Huck makes a choice that makes his life more difficult. Carton’s makes a decision that brings his miserable life to a quick end. Carton’s action, while noble, merely reflect the easy way out.

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