In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain depicts what could be called "The Education of Huck Finn" as the young man travels down the river and experiences different aspects of the society of his time. Huck does not learn the sort of thing found in books, and indeed Twain uses this novel as a way of making fun of a certain genre of books, the sort of high adventures that fascinate Tom Sawyer and that are very different from the real world in which Tom and Huck live. The education of Huck Finn is an education in the hypocrisy that besets so many different levels of society. Huck is intuitive about what is right, and in the long term what he learns is to trust his intuition, his own innate sense of right and wrong.
In the beginning of the book, Huck is enmeshed in a very different sort of education under the tutelage of the widow Douglas. This is the more traditional education acquired in school, a type of education intended to civilize the boy:
I had been to school most all the time, and could spell, and read, and write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I could ever get any further than that if I was to live forever (38).
For Huck, education is only valuable so far as it is practical, and if he cannot use it immediately and directly, he sees no need to know it.
Tom is an overpowering presence when he is on the scene and imposes his view of the world, a highly romantic view, on his friend. Huck, however, even as he participates in Tom's recreations of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, always has a certain piratical sense that keeps him from believing the reality of the code of honor that Tom is always touting as necessary for heroic action. Much of the trip down the river will bring Huck into interactions with others who profess to live by a code that sets them apart from others and makes them more noble, more virtuous, and more honest...