Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (2896 words) Essay

Adventures Of Huckleberry FinnResearch paper on Mark Twain’s Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel about a
young boy’s coming of age in the Missouri of the mid-1800^?s. It
is the story of Huck’s struggle to win freedom for himself and
Jim, a Negro slave. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was Mark
Twain^?s greatest book, and a delighted world named it his
masterpiece. To nations knowing it well – Huck riding his raft
in every language men could print – it was America’s
masterpiece (Allen 259). It is considered one of the greatest
novels because it conceals so well Twain’s opinions within what
is seemingly a child’s book. Though initially condemned as
inappropriate material for young readers, it soon became prized
for its recreation of the Antebellum South, its insights into
slavery, and its depiction of adolescent life.
The novel resumes Huck’s tale from the Adventures of Tom
Sawyer, which ended with Huck^?s adoption by Widow Douglas.But
it is so much more. Into this book the world called his
masterpiece, Mark Twain put his prime purpose, one that
branched in all his writing: a plea for humanity, for the end of
caste, and of its cruelties (Allen 260).
Twain, whose real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was born in
Florida, Missouri, in 1835. During his childhood he lived in
Hannibal, Missouri, a Mississippi river port that was to become a
large influence on his future writing. It was Twain’s nature to
write about where he lived, and his nature to criticize it if he
felt it necessary. As far his structure, Kaplan said,
In plotting a book his structural sense was weak; intoxicated
by a hunch, he seldom saw far ahead, and too many of his stories
peter out from the author’s fatigue or surfeit. His wayward
techniques came close to free association. This method served
him best after he had conjured up characters from long ago, who
on coming to life wrote the narrative for him, passing from
incident to incident with a grace their creator could never
achieve in manipulating an artificial plot (Kaplan 16).
His best friend of forty years William D. Howells, has this to
say about Twain’s writing. So far as I know, Mr. Clemens is the
first writer to use in extended writing the fashion we all use in
thinking, and to set down the thing that comes into his mind
without fear or favor of the thing that went before or the thing
that may be about to follow (Howells 186).

The main character, Huckleberry Finn, spends much time in the
novel floating down the Mississippi River on a raft with a
runaway slave named Jim. Before he does so, however, Huck spends
some time in the fictional town of St. Petersburg where
a number of people attempt to influence him.Huck^?s feelings
grow through the novel. Especially in his feelings toward his
friends, family, blacks, and society. Throughout the book, Huck
usually looks into his own heart for guidance. Moral intuition
is the basis on which his character rests.
Before the novel begins, Huck Finn has led a life of absolute
freedom. His drunken and often missing father has never paid
much attention to him; his mother is dead and so, when the novel
begins, Huck is not used to following any rules. In the
beginning of the book Huck is living with the Widow Douglas and
her sister, Miss Watson. Both women are fairly old and are
incapable of raising a rebellious boy like Huck Finn.
However, they attempt to make Huck into what the y believe will
be a better boy. The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and
allowed she would sivilize me; but it rough living in the house
all the time considering how dismal regular and decent the widow
was in all her ways^? (Twain 11). This process includes making
Huck go to school, teaching him various religious facts, and
making him act in a way that the women find socially acceptable.
In this first chapter, Twain gives us the first direct example
of communicating his feelings through Huck Finn: ^?After supper,
the Widow Douglas got out her book and learned me about
Moses…By and bye she let it out that Moses had been dead a
considerable long time; so then I didn^?t care no more about him,
because I don’t take no stock in dead people^? (Twain 12). In a
letter written by Twain, he had this to say: As to the past,
there is but one good thing about it, and that is, that it is the
past — we don’t have to see it again…I have no tears for my
pile, no respect, no reverence, no pleasure in taking a rag-
picker’s hood and exploring it (Bellamy 156). Twain expresses
his feelings in the above paragraph by using the I don’t take no
stock in dead people(Twain 12) line in the novel. In this way he
can fashion a child^?s narrative to convey his views of the past.
This is one example of the process Twain will continue to use in
this novel to conceal satirical meanings within humorous lines.
Huck, who has never had to follow many rules in his life, finds
the demands the women place upon him constraining and the life
with them lonely. As a result, soon after he first moves in with
them, he runs away. He soon comes back, but, even though he
becomes somewhat comfortable with his new life as the months go
by, Huck never really enjoys the life of manners, religion, and
education that the Widow and her sister impose upon him.
Huck believes he will find some freedom with Tom Sawyer. Tom is
a boy of Huck^?s age who promises Huck and other boys of the town
a life of adventure. Huck is eager to join Tom Sawyer’s Gang
because he feels that doing so will allow him to escape the
boring life he leads with the Widow Douglas. Unfortunately, such
an escape does not occur. Tom Sawyer promises the gang they will
be robbing stages, murdering and ransoming people, kidnapping
beautiful women, but none of this comes to pass.
Huck finds out too late that Tom’s adventures are imaginary:
that raiding a caravan of A-rabs really means terrorizing young
children on a Sunday School picnic, that stolen joolry is
nothing more than turnips or rocks (Twain 22). Huck is
disappointed that the adventures Tom promises are not real and
so, along with the other members, he resigns from the gang.
Another person who tries to get Huckleberry Finn to change is
Pap, Hucks father. Some of Huck’s most memorable lines were in
reference to Pap. Twain uses humor and innocence to depict a
generalization of society: Pap always said, take a chicken when
you get a chance, because if you don^?t want him yourself you can
easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t never forgot.
I never see Pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that
is what he used to say, anyway (Twain 16). These types of
paragraphs are used for three things simultaneously: to add a
note of satire, to add to the storyline, and to continue to
emphasize the child^?s point of view (Branch 214). Pap is one
of the most interesting figures in the novel. He is completely
antisocial and wishes to undo all of the civilizing effects that
the Widow and Miss Watson have attempted to instill in Huck. Pap
is unshaven and dirty. Huck is afraid of his father because he
is an abusive drunk who only wants Huck for his money.I used
to be scared of him all the time, he taned me so much, I reckoned
I was scared now too (Twain 18). Pap demands that Huck quit
school, stop reading, and avoid church. Huck is able to stay
away from Pap for a while, but Pap kidnaps Huck three or four
months after Huck starts to live with the Widow and takes him to
a lonely cabin deep in the woods. Here, Huck enjoys, once
again, the freedom that he had prior to the beginning of the
book. He can smoke, laze around, swear, and, in general, do what
he wants to do. However, as he did with the Widow and with Tom,
Huck begins to become dissatisfied with this life. Pap beats
Huck often and he soon realizes that he will have to escape from
the cabin if he wishes to remain alive. Huck makes it appear as
if he is killed in the cabin while Pap is away, and leaves to
go to a remote island in the Mississippi River, Jackson^?s
It is after he leaves his father^?s cabin that Huck joins yet
another important influence in his life, Miss Watson^?s slave,
Jim. Prior to Huck’s leaving, Jim has been a minor character in
the novel — he has been shown being fooled by Tom Sawyer and
telling Huck’s fortune. Huck finds Jim on Jackson^?s Island
because the slave has run away when he overheard a conversation
that he will soon be sold to someone in New Orleans. When
he first finds Jim on the island, he is glad simply because he
wants companionship; but as the two share the peace of the place,
Huck comes to regard Jim as a human being rather than a faithful
dog. Huck begins to realize that Jim has more talents and
intelligence than Huck has been aware of. Jim knows all kinds of
things about the future, people’s personalities, and weather
forecasting. Huck finds this kind of information necessary as he
and Jim drift down the Mississippi on a raft. Mark Twain’s
imagination lends vigor and freshness to many passages, and
especially in the sections involving conversations between
Jim and Huck. As Huck and Jim lie on their backs at night
looking up at the stars, while the raft slips silently down the
river, they argue about whether the stars was made or only
just happened: Jim said the moon could laid them; well, that
looked kind of reasonable…because I’ve seen a frog lay most as
many (Twain 120). Huck feels more comfortable with Jim than he
feels with the other major characters in the novel. With Jim,
Huck can enjoy the best aspects of his earlier influences. Jim
allows Huck security, but Jim is not as confining as the Widow.
Like Tom Sawyer, Jim is intelligent but his intelligence is not
as intimidating or as imaginary as is Tom’s. Unlike Pap,
Jim allows Huck freedom, but he does it in a loving, rather than
an uncaring, fashion. Thus, early, in their relationship on
Jackson’s Island, Huck says to Jim, This is nice. I wouldn’t
want to be nowhere else but here (Twain 55).Although their
friendship took plenty of time to develop and had many bumps in
the road, it is a strong one that will last a long time.
Through it all, Huck triumphed over society and followed his
heart, and Jim helped Huck to mature and became free. Their
journey to friendship is one to remember.
Huck is a developing character throughout the novel. Much of
his development is due to his association with Jim and his
increasing respect for the black man.
Huck and Jim start their long journey down the Mississippi to
Cairo where Jim will find his freedom. It is on this journey
where Huck slowly develops a respectful friendship with Jim.
However, this is slow to develop because Huck plays some very
nasty tricks on Jim. The tricks would not have been so mean if
Huck did not mean so much to Jim. Jim really needs Huck^?s help
if he is going to make it safely. It is also later revealed that
Huck is the only friend that Jim ever had. After Huck plays the
trick where they got separated on the river he realizes what he
has done and feels bad; however, Huck is slow to apologize. It
was fifteen minutes before I could go and humble myself to a
nigger; but I done it and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterward,
neither. I didnt do him no more mean tricks, and I wouldn’t have
done that one if I’d a knowed it would make him feel that
way’ (Twain 86). That incident probably changed the whole way
Huck looks at Jim and other Negroes. He realizes that they are
people with feelings not just a household item. Part of the
power of the book lies in Mark Twain^?s drawing of the character
of Nigger Jim. Mark Twain shows Jim^?s slow, purposeful
reasoning. But in other moods Jim^?s spirit opens out to a wider
horizon. Like Huck, he senses the beauty of the river. In
his interpretation of a dream, Jim lets ^?the big, clear river^?
symbolize ^?the free States^?-in other words freedom. If The
Enchanted Village might serve as a subtitle for Tom Sawyer, so
The Road to Freedom might serve the same purpose for Huckleberry
Finn (Bellamy 342).
A while later fate decides to test Huck and they come across
some slave hunters. Huck is still a little confused between right
and wrong and decides to turn Jim in, but at the last second Huck
starts lying and saves Jim from being discovered. ^?they went
off and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I
knowed very well I had done wrong^? (Twain 91).
At one of the towns that Huck and Jim stop at they pick up two
men who claim to be royalty but are really con-artists. Huck
quickly realizes this but does not say anything just to keep the
peace on the raft. Huck does not really like these two, King and
Duke, because they do mean things to innocent people to make
their living. They go too far when they find three sisters who
just lost their father and they pretend to be their British
uncles. They plan to rob the sisters for all their worth but
Huck foils their plan. This passage illustrates Huck^?s kindness
to total strangers. Huck especially did not care for King and
Duke after King sells Jim for forty dollars. Huck is determined
to free Jim and finds out that Jim is being kept at the farm of
Tom Sawyer^?s aunt and uncle. Huck presents himself as Tom
Sawyer. When Tom actually arrives, he cooperates with Huck
and presents himself as another fellow, Sid. Huck enlists Tom^?s
aid in the scheme to rescue Jim. Tom, however, develops an
unnecessarily complicated plot. When they help Jim escape, a
chase ensues. Tom is shot in the leg and Jim is recaptured.
But then the boys learn that Jim^?s owner has died, bequeathing
him his freedom. They also learn that Huck^?s father, too, has
died. Tom^?s Aunt Sally then offers to adopt Huck, but he
realizes that the process of becoming civilized is not an
enjoyable one.
Throughout the course of the novel Huck changed from a boy who
shared the narrow-minded opinion which looked down on Negroes to
one where he viewed them as equals. I would say that would be
his biggest emotional growth in the novel. Huck is a very
personable narrator. He tells his story in plain language.
It is through his precise trusting eyes that the reader sees the
world of the novel. Because Huck is so literal, the reader gains
an understanding of the work Mark Twain created, the reader is
able to catch Twain^?s jokes and hear his skepticism. The
Grangerford^?s furniture, much admired by Huck, is actually
comically tacky. You can almost hear Mark Twain laughing over
the parrot-flanked clock and the curtains with cows and
castles painted on them even as Huck oohs and ahhs. Through the
character of Huck, that disreputable, illiterate little boy,
Mark Twain was licensed to let himself go…That Mark Twain was
almost, if not quite conscious of his opportunity we can see from
his introductory note to the book: ^?persons attempting to
find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons
attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons
attempting to find a plot in it will be shot^? (Branch 216).
The emotional tie-in with the past found expression in Mark
Twain^?s self-identification with Huck, the dominant strategy he
employed. This identification breathed life into Huck^?s
character and into his experience, which encompasses the dramatic
role of sharply individualized characters.
Works Cited
Allen, Jerry. The Adventures of Mark Twain. Boston: Little, 1954.
Bellamy, Gladys Carmen. Mark Twain: As A Literary Artist. Norman:
UP of Oklahoma, 1950.
Branch, Edgar Marquess. The Literary Apprenticeship Of Mark
Twain. New York: Russell, 1966.
Howells, W. D. My Mark Twain: Reminiscences and Criticisms. New
York: Harper, 1910.
Kaplan, Justin, ed. Mark Twain: A Profile. New York: Hill, 1967.
Twain, Mark. Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Penguin,
grade: 98

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