The ending of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is one of the most contentious endings in literature. Jane Smiley, author of "Say it Ain't So, Huck: Second Thoughts on Mark Twain's 'Masterpiece'", and many people believe that the ending defeats the purpose of the novel and that it detracts from the novel as a whole. However, Maria Konnikova, author of "Is Huckleberry Finn's Ending Really Lacking? Not if You're Talking Psychology", and others disagree with Smiley, believing that the ending does not distract from the purpose of the novel or the novel itself. Through Huck's regressive behavior, Twain is able to reflect both a realistic protagonist and the growth of a teenager.
Twain uses Huck's transformation in order to create a novel about the growth of a teenage boy. At the beginning of the book, Huck believes in white supremacy and conforms to his peers and surroundings. He also assists Tom Sawyer in playing a juvenile prank on Jim to make him believe he was bewitched. In addition to that, Huck joins in Tom Sawyer's band of boys who sign a blood pact together and have a romanticized view on the world. While he is on the Mississippi, Huck realizes that the slavery, the social norm, is ethically wrong and treats Jim as an equal. Huck protects Jim several times and apologizes to Jim after playing a cruel prank on him. At the end of the novel, Huck decides that he would go to hell in order to free Jim after he is resold into slavery Although this transformation could be seen as the "[tendency] to behave differently in private versus public spheres" (Konnikova), it is clear that it is actually a sign of maturity. The gain of respect for freed slaves shows Huck's maturity as he is able to see the wrongdoings of slavery. Huck is also able to stand up for his beliefs to help set Jim free. By standing up for his convictions, Huck resists peer pressure and shows a sign of strength and maturity.