The Path Well Worn Comes Fraught with Cowardice
James Freeman Clarke once said “Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.” Then what exactly makes a man, a man? In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn Colonel Sherburn gave a speech where he proclaimed that a man is defined by his courage to stand up for what he knows to be right thing. But most men will not stand up for the right thing, or even what they believe in, unless other men stand up with him. Although it was Colonel Sherburn who gave the speech, it was Twain who wrote it. Twain’s purpose in writing Colonel Sherburn’s speech was to point out the cowardice in the average man, demonstrate how easily manipulated men are, and show what it took for a man to stand up for what was right.
Colonel Sherburn proved his point that the average man was a coward when he stopped the mob from lynching him, regardless of the fact that he was only one man. For example, after tearing down Sherburn’s fence, “the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like a wave.” Yet after Sherburn stepped out onto the porch of his house, “The racket stopped, and the wave sucked back.” Despite the mob’s former fervor to lynch Sherburn, all it took was his presence in front of them, to stop them. Sherburn was able to stand up to the mob because no one in it had the courage to defy him, which is exactly what he said. Sherburn was right; the people in the mob knew he should be punished for shooting Boggs in cold blood, but because they did not have a man in their midst to lead the charge, would not punish him for his crime. In addition, Sherburn further proved his point when he was able to scare off the mob by himself, ‘Now the thing for you to do, is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching’s going to be done, it will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they come they’ll bring their masks, and fetch a...