Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
In the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck goes
through many adventures on the Mississippi River. He
escapes from Pap and sails down the Mississippi with an
escaped slave named Jim. Huck goes through the moral
conflict of how wrong it is to be helping Jim escape to
freedom. Eventually Huck decides he will help Jim and
actually steals him from a farmer with the help of Tom
Sawyer, a friend. Eventhough Huck and Jim are trying to
sail to the Ohio River which leads to freedom, they pass it
in the dark.
Over the course of the novel Huck's opinion of Jim changes.
In the beginning of their voyage, Huck feels he shouldn't
be helping Jim to freedom and almost turns him in to slave
catchers Twain 87 "I was paddling off, all in a sweat to
tell on him; but when he says this (that Huck is his one
and only friend) it seemed to take the tuck all out of
me.". Huck begins to enjoy having Jim's company, and when
Jim is sold by the Duke and the King, Huck breaks down and
cries while asking the Duke where Jim is Twain 208 "'sold
him' I says, and begun to cry; 'why he was my nigger, and
that was my money. Where is he?-- I want my nigger.". Then
Huck steals Jim from the Phelps farm (eventhough he was
already set free by Miss Watson's will). Huck Finn changes
as we go through the story because Jim is really almost his
slave and he grows to like having Jim wait on him.
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain depicts Southern life and
society in the 1870's. The main point that Twain makes is
that Southern life is not as glorious as it's made out to
be. We can tell this be several ironies between the way
Southern life was depicted and the way Twain describes
them. One of the ironies is that plantation owners were
supposed to be like kings, but Twain takes one of these
"kings", Colonel Sherburn and has him kill Boggs, the town
drunk. If these plantation owners were kings they'd have no
reason to be killing drunks. Another irony is that Southern
society is supposed to be based on European aristocracy,
but in reality the characters in this book are nothing but
loafers and idiots. They are quick to pass judgment like
when Huck tells the slave catchers that people on his raft
have smallpox (on page 88) and they instantly believe him
and give him money. Violence is the general outcome of most
situations in this novel. An example of this is the funeral
when a dispute arises when the real Wilkses arrive they
decide that they'll kill all four of them Twain 195 "The
whole billin' of 'm 's frauds! Le's duck 'em! Le's drown
'em! Le's ride 'em on a rail!". Mary Jane is a good example
of one of the few good intelligent Southerners in this book.
In Huck Finn Twain uses women throughout the novel. Some of
the women like Mary Jane and Mrs. Loftus (when Huck dresses
as a girl) are used to help Huck. Mary Jane aids in
catching the Duke and King, and Mrs. Loftus gives Huck some
valuable information Twain 57 "...but husband's going over
to see (if Jim's on Jackson Island)- him and another man".
Another way women are used in this novel is as controlling
figures. The widow and Miss Watson are two character who
try to control or "sivilize" Huck and are generally viewed
as bad people.
It may be suprising but Huck Finn wasn't considered a
racist for the time that this story occured. Huck Finn
acted and thought just like many other Southerners Twain
213 "..(Huck)We blowed out a cylinder head. (Aunt Sally)
Good gracious! Anybody hurt? (Huck) No'm killed a nigger.
(A.Sally) Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get
hurt." Back then negros were treated as objects or animals.
The word 'nigger' was the normal word for a black person.
That is why this book is so controversial today. In any
case Huck Finn is a good story, and a great example of
literature from that time.
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