The age and background of Huck are as important as his personality. Huck is a child, only about thirteen years old, who comes from the lowest levels of white society. His father is a drunk and a thug who disappears for months on end. Huck himself is dirty and frequently homeless. From the very beginning of Huck's story, Huck clearly states that he did not want to conform to society; 'The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me... I got into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.' Huck becomes skeptical of the world around him, and constantly looks to distance himself from it.

Since he is a child, Huck is always vulnerable. Any adult he encounters has power over him. This allows Twain to compare Huck to Jim, who, as a slave, is also vulnerable to whites, even to a poor white child such as Huck. Huck's experiences as he travels down the river force him to question the things he's been taught. According to the law, Jim is Miss Watson's property, but according to Huck's sense of logic and fairness, it is not only acceptable but also even morally good to help Jim. Huck's natural intelligence and his willingness to think through a situation on its own merits lead him to some conclusions that are right in their context but would shock society.

For example, he discovers, when the two meet a group of slave-hunters, that telling a lie is sometimes the right course of action. As portrayed several times in the novel, Huck chooses to follow his innate sense of right, yet he does not realize that his own instincts are more moral than those of society. Huck's acceptance of his love for Jim is shown in chapter thirty-one. Huck writes a letter to Miss Watson to return Jim, yet he ends up ripping the letter and wishes to free Jim. ''All right, then, I'll go to hell'- and he tore it up.' Here, we see that Huck concludes that he is evil, and that society has been right all along. Since Huck is still a child, the world seems new to him.

Everything he encounters is an occasion for thought. He must still struggle with some of the preconceptions about blacks that society has ingrained in him, and he shows himself all too willing to follow Tom Sawyer's lead. But even these failures are part of what makes Huck appealing and sympathetic. Throughout his journey, Huck encounters many different situations in which he learns to adapt and react to each in a way that he feels suitable. Huck learns his own morals and finds his own truths. "'I knows what I knows." Huck learns about life and the real world.

He observes how cruel and heartless the human race is. He then gathers what he has learned and combines it into an identity that suits him.