Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Huck Finn's Folly or Undergraduate Purgatory

I am rather upset/angry (I'm sorry... being a guy means a lot of emotions get shaken and stirred then turned into anger). Ergo, I've decided to write about a classic experience I had in Purgatory Central: Huck Finn's Folly.

Before starting I would like to apologize for all the Dopey White Kids in my Philosophy 101 Class.

I would also like to apologize for all the parents of the aforementioned Dopey White Kids for raising their children into Dopey White Kids.

After high school I did not go directly to college. I worked at a variety of menial jobs and then backpacked in Britain and did some travelling around this country. By the time I was an undergraduate I had some "wear on the tires".

I went to Bridgewater State College and most of the students were fresh faced kids directly out of high school. Many of them had let's say sheltered lives. As most people know the first two years of a liberal arts education are filled with required courses designed to make good citizens. There are many who scoff at such an idea. That these General Requirements are a waste of time. This story proves that at the very least Philosophy 101 is a vital piece to any one's schooling.

I was a philosophy geek (hard to imagine eh?) and sat in the front of the class. The required readings consisted of small pieces from literary works that illustrate a particular moral question or principle. The reading for that particular day was an excerpt from Huck Finn. Huck had just ran away and was rafting down the river. With him was Jim an escaped slave. Another raft came beside him. It was manned by men looking for Jim to bring him back to bondage. Huck had a choice: give Jim up or keep him hidden. Huck decides to keep Jim hidden and the Slavers move on. Huck feels very badly about his decision. He believes he will go to Hell because everyone knows slavery is ordained by God. It's important for modern readers to really understand that Huck was committing a grievous act for his time and place and he was aware of the consequences (eternity in Hell).

The Professor went over the basics of the story...

(I know this is redundant, but it's really important to stress that I didn't make this up)

and he asked by a raise of hands who thought Huck made the wrong decision (that is Huck should of handed Jim over to the Slavers).

I first noticed the person to my left raise their hand.

I turned in dismay and the person to my right was raising their hand too.

Oh my God! I was sandwiched between two goose-stepping poster children for the Hitler Youth.

Then I turned.

Fuck me.

Ninety-Five percent of the class had their hands raised... up high... like Sieg Heil high.

OK, OK, maybe they didn't understand the question.

The Professor cleared his throat uncomfortably and picked one of the hand raisers.

"Why did Huck do the wrong thing?"

The student replied full of earnest earnestiness, "His parents had taught him that it was wrong."

Another student chimed in, "The law said it was wrong, too."

Nods of agreement from his peers.

A vein in my head was going to explode and my last thought would be of these knuckleheads/fascists.

I then remembered to breathe and composed myself. I raised my hand politely and stated, "Does this mean every law is moral? Can a person really be property?...What kind of..."

The professor saw I was losing my shit pretty fast and stepped in. He had a sad look on his face as if this drama had played itself out before, many times before.

"Those are good questions. Let's think about it..." and then he went on and gave a basic tutorial on how to be a decent human being.


  1. great disturbing story.

    (but add a "be" to the last sentence, says the quasi-professor)

  2. Yeah, as a middle aged white guy, I can lose my shit pretty quickly as well.

  3. what amy said. disurbing.

    i don't know how i would've handled it, but probably not very well.


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