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Continuing Huck. Cognitive Dissonance, Morality, and Huck’s Decision. Cognitive Dissonance. Twain uses Huck as a master satiric voice; but he also uses the idea of cognitive dissonance Definition: The feeling of discomfort accompanied by holding two contradictory ideas at once. Freewrite.

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continuing huck

Continuing Huck

Cognitive Dissonance, Morality, and Huck’s Decision

cognitive dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Twain uses Huck as a master satiric voice; but he also uses the idea of cognitive dissonance
  • Definition: The feeling of discomfort accompanied by holding two contradictory ideas at once
  • Nobody wants to be in an abusive relationship. But people continue to be in them. This is a form of cognitive dissonance. How do people deal with this?
cd examples
CD Examples
  • Dieting
  • Relationships
    • Unemployed boyfriend
    • Unstable/abusive boyfriend
  • Office supplies from work
  • Premarital sex
cognitive dissonance and racism
Cognitive Dissonance and Racism
  • If you accept that “other” people are human persons, then you’re essentially arguing for their equality
  • But this means you can’t treat them as less than human – but people did, and people do
dealing with racist cognitive dissonance
Dealing with racist cognitive dissonance
  • How do people deal with this?
  • Option one: Convince yourself that your ideas and actions aren’t actually treating them as unequal
    • Segregation
  • Option two: Convince yourself, consciously or unconsciously, that you are indeed somehow better than people of a specific race
    • “They’re human too, but more prone to theft, etc.”
huck s racism
Huck’s Racism?
  • What about Huck? Does he recognize Jim’s humanity?
    • Yes! (Read end of chapter 23)
  • Is Huck racist? Does he disagree with slavery?
    • Yes and no! (read the book)
  • So he is involved in cognitive dissonance:
    • On the one hand, he recognizes Jim’s humanity
    • But on the other hand, he is OK with slavery
climax of cognitive dissonance in huck
Climax of Cognitive Dissonance in Huck
  • Psychologically speaking, you can’t be involved in cognitive dissonance for too long – you either “correct” the problem, or go crazy
  • Where do we see this cognitive dissonance (this feeling of discomfort) coming to a climax? (Hint: In some ways, it’s also the climax of the novel.)
why the dissonance society
Why the Dissonance? Society
  • On the one hand, Huck has society’s morals, and everything they have taught him: slavery is OK; helping a slave is wrong; you go to hell for doing bad things
  • But on the other hand, we see that Huck, even if unconsciously, wants to help Jim because he is a person and friend
huck s decision
Huck’s Decision
  • He resolves this by rejecting society’s morals: ripping up the letter, saying he’d go to hell, etc.
twain s points
Twain’s Points
  • So what is Twain saying to his times?
  • You can’t recognize others’ humanity while involving yourself in racist practices
  • You can step outside of your society’s morality and recognize morals more important