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The Role of Protagonist in 3 Novels

In Mark TwainÆs Huckleberry Finn, in Jane AustenÆs Emma, and in Chaim PotokÆs My Name is Asher Lev, we are treated to three protagonists whose attitudes and actions disrupt their respective communities. In Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn rejects the values and attitudes of the racist South and its attempts to ôcivilizeö him. In AustenÆs novel, EmmaÆs efforts at manipulating and controlling others threatens to disrupt the patriarchal and hierarchical nature of Victorian society. In My Name is Asher Lev, Asher disrupts his orthodox Jewish community by rejecting his fatherÆs values and becoming a ôChristianö painter. All three protagonists experience growth in these novels, but all three of them ultimately fail to impact the environments which are responsible for their newfound understanding.

We see development of the protagonists in each of these novels as a consequence of their respective environments. Huck Finn has an abusive father, resists efforts by the Widow Douglass, who adopts him, to civilize him, and he finds the values of a ôcivilizedö society that enslaves others hypocritical. In his adventures with the run-a-way slave Jim, Huck learns that the values of southern society go against what he believes is right. Huck is a product of a society that preaches Christian values at the same time it indulges in slavery. Even though Jim is his best friend and takes care of Huck, HuckÆs living in such an environment make him feel guilty for helping Jim. When he writes a letter to Miss Watson telling her JimÆs whereabouts, he initially thinks, ôI felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first timeö (Twain, 2003, p. 213). Huck has not fully abandoned the values of his society in a way similar to Asher Lev maintaining of his reputation as a traitor and blasphemer and other negative perceptions, ôI am none of those things. And yetàI am indeed, in some way, all of those t


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