Adventures Of Huck Finn And History
The world in which we live in now is much less oppressive than say the world
lived in the middle of the 1800’s. Up until the Civil War, the South depended
on their ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery, in order to be productive a
successful. Most people believed slavery was not wrong, but those who thought
otherwise seldom tried to alter it. In general if surrounded by oppressive
environment, one does not usually try to make a difference in that world. This
is because people are afraid to defend what is right against a whole mass of
people who believe otherwise. Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

Billy Budd in Billy Budd, and Frederick Douglass in his autobiography all
portray individuals who because of their good, innocent qualities go up against
the oppression in their society. Living in an oppressive society does not always
draw you to do the wrong thing you are still capable of generating change,
whether it be for a certain individual or against a whole mass of people. Billy

Budd starts off on the ship the "Rights of Man", Melville obviously showing
his intent in the naming of the first ship. This shows that on this ship where

Billy wanted to be and chose to be he had rights. That he and the other crew had
choices of what to do and how to be. Then along comes the British navy and
decides that they are going to take Billy aboard their ship "Power of War".

This is when Billy is brought into an oppressive society. This is the navy and
wartime during which rules must be followed as well as a lifestyle that must be
followed. Billy is a poor innocent boy with a childish stutter. This stutter
shows Billy’s humane side, a flaw, as well as leading you to the thinking that
he has the innocence of a child. This stutter is connected to innocence because
of its childish qualities. When most children begin speaking they have some sort
of stutter, which usually goes away. The stutter parallels innocence because it
is showing that you are just learning how to talk and don’t really comprehend
the correct way to make sounds, as you grow older you learn and the stutter
disappears. Like innocence you are born with it, but as you grow older you
usually are not portrayed as innocent any longer. Billy is like the premature
kid who still has both his stutter and his innocence. Billy is introduced to
many people aboard his new ship and is confronted by John Claggart. In this
movie Claggart is the one who Billy must actually go up against. Being in an
oppressive society and Claggart being the master Billy is forced to listen to

Claggart. Although he tries to avoid him he is nevertheless confronted by him.

Claggart and Billy are totally opposite in character. Claggart is an evil man
who is out to get Billy whereas Billy is a sweet innocent young man who tries to
help others. It is these two opposite traits that eventually lead to the death
of both of these men. Billy tries to avoid Claggart because he has heard of his
evil and does not want to deal with it. It is until he hears of Claggart’s
accusations that he is involved in a mutiny that he confronts him leading to the
deathblow, which Billy delivers to Claggart. Captain Vere now holds a court to
determine Billy’s consequences. Captain Vere is torn here between doing the
right thing morally and doing the right thing legally, and in the end he
realizes he has sworn to uphold the law and does just that. Billy did indeed
kill a higher officer and according to the laws must be sentenced death. On the
other hand, Billy was sticking up for himself. Captain Vere’s legal side wins
the battle; Billy is condemned and hanged. Billy’s hanging meant a lot. It
tore the officers among themselves, most saying Billy was justified in his
actions therefore should not be punished to the extent of death. This makes a
difference in the whole issue of oppression aboard this ship. We now know that
the officers, while usually acting inhumane, actually do have a humane side and
are capable of being in touch with that side when needed. Billy changes the
society by killing Claggart because now no one aboard the ship will have to deal
with his evilness again, although Billy and his goodness did not prevail in this
oppressive society the