In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain concerns himself with the inability of his characters to produce subjective judgements. This problem manifests itself many times throughout the novel. One example of this is the feud of the Grangerfords. Wrapped up in the pointless hate for the sake of tradition, the Grangerfords have stopped making subjective judgements in favor of continuing the feud. One of the best examples is the Mob (or crowd). Twain frequently uses the crowd as a singular character. Wrapped up in the odd effects of group psychology, no one individual in the Mob is capable of making subjective judgements. This sets off the Sherburn incident, as well as allowing them to be duped numerous times by the King and Duke. Twain is saying that subjective judgement as opposed to doing the accepted thing, provides for a better guide for living.

The mob is a critical character throughout the story and almost always shows a definite lack of subjective judgement. The mob is most prominent during the Sherburn incident. Also, the mob is swindled numerous times by the King and the Duke, due to their lack of subjective judgement.

One point in which the mob shows significant lack of subjective judgement is when the King swindles the religious revival soon after joining with Huck and company. The King's spiel about how he had "been a pirate for 30 years out in the Indian Ocean" who had just recently become "a changed man now" manipulated the crowd into acting without subjective judgement. After the King subtly hinted that it would "take him a long time to get there without money" someone in the crowd yelled out "take up a collection for him, take up a collection". The crowd immediately began forking over large amounts of money. No one considered the unlikeliness of a pirate from the Indian Ocean winding up in the middle of Bible Belt America. Neither did it occur to anyone the unlikeliness of someone who had been a pirate for most of his life suddenly acquiring religion in less than an hour of revival. Both of these are incredible lacks of subjective reasoning.

The Sherburn incident is one of the main places where the mob displayed its lack. Soon after Boggs' death "somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched". After this, everyone immediately joined in and proceeded to go to lynch him. No one suggested that he be arrested and put to trial, nor did anyone point out that Sherburn had said to Boggs, "I'm tired of this, but I'll endure it till one o'clock. Till one o'clock, mind -- no longer. If you open your mouth against me only once after that time, you can't travel so far but I will find you." Sherburn was giving Boggs a clear warning, but Boggs persisted anyway. No one in the crowd made any of their own subjective decisions. Everyone simply jumped on the band wagon as soon as it was suggested to lynch Sherburn.

Sherburn's speech throws significant light on the reasons for the mob's deficit. When Sherburn says: "... they (the mob) don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass ...," he is stating an important aspect of mob psychology. He knows that people in large groups don't think for themselves, but rather each person does what they are doing because everyone else is doing it. No person in the crowd is performing any significant independent thought at all, much less making any subjective judgements. Sherburn's speech was able to break this group cohesion. Without the force of the Mob driving them, the individuals "broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way".

The feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepardsons is another example of people with a subjective judgement impairment. Although it seems quite different, there is a similarity with the mob from the Sherburn incident. The individuals in the crowd were letting the crowd make their choices for them. The Grangerfords are allowing their ancestors to make the decision that they must all kill Shepardsons. No member of the Grangerfords considered the fact that no one even remembered why they were fighting. In fact, when Huck asked Buck Grangerford if land was the reason for the feud, Buck responded, "I reckon maybe -- I don't know." And when asked about who started the feud, Buck's response was, "Laws, How do I know?" Not only does Buck not know the original reason for the feud, he doesn't really care either. This shows that Buck is not using any subjective judgement. The only reason that he continues to fight Shepardson, is because it's tradition.

Nor, when Harney Shepardson eloped with Miss Sophia Grangerford, did anyone consider canceling or even temporarily suspending the feud for the sake of the newlyweds. Instead, the news caused renewed hostility. Once it was discovered by the two families both families came out en mass to shoot each other. Specifically, the Grangerfords were out to shoot Harney Shepardson, who was now or soon would be part of their family by marriage. When reporting the events to Huck, Jack (one of the slaves) said, "Sich another hurrin' up guns en hosses you never did see." The family didn't spend any time considering the merits of such a marriage. As soon as they heard of it, they reflexively reacted by preparing to go to kill their daughter's lover. It never occurred to anyone to be happy that two young people had found love. Clearly, neither the Grangerfords not the Shepardsons were making any rational subjective judgements.

In these cases, the characters did the accepted thing without considering whether it was what they really wanted to or should be doing. In contrast, consider each time Huck debated with himself whether to turn in Jim. Every time he began by reasoning about what would be the legal or moral thing to do. In doing this, he always reached the conclusion that since it was against the society's mores and laws to assist a runaway slave, he must turn in Jim. Each time he reached this conclusion and set about the task of turning in Jim, he started thinking about his previous relation ship with Jim, and the friendship they had formed. At this point, he realizes he can't turn in Jim. When he realizes this, Huck is making an independent subjective judgement different from that of the society around him. After each incident, Huck, although he is certain he is going to hell for it, seems happy about his decision, and so is the reader. In contrast, when the Grangerfords set out to kill Harney Shepardson, Huck is disgusted by the whole state of affairs, and decides that it is time to leave. The reader also feels disgusted. Twain is trying to show us that the ability to make your own independent subjective judgements is critical to being able to be in charge of your own life.