Huckleberry Finn has the great advantage of being written in
autobiographical form. Every scene in the book is given, not described, and the
result is a vivid picture of Western life in the past. Before the novel begins, Huck
Finn has led a life of absolute freedom. His alcoholic father was often missing and
never paid much attention to him. Since Hucks mother is dead he is not used to
following any rules. In the beginning, Huck is living with the Widow Douglas and her
sister, Miss Watson. Both women are fairly old and have no patience to raise a
rebellious boy like Huck Finn. They try to make an attempt to make Huck into what
they believe will be a better boy. Huck never really enjoys the life of manners,
religion, and education that the Widow and her sister impose upon him.
Huck decides to try and find freedom with his friend Tom Sawyer. A boy of
Hucks age, Tom, promises Huck and other boys of the town a life of adventure.
Huck really wants to join Toms Gang because he feels that if he does join he will
escape the boring life he leads with the Widow Douglas. Tom Sawyer promises many
things, but unfortunately, such thing did not occur. Toms adventures turned out
imaginary. Huck is disappointed that the adventures Tom promises are not real, so
along with the other members, he resigned from the gang.
Another person who tries to get Huckleberry Finn to change is Hucks father.
His father is very antisocial and wishes to do all of the civilizing effects that Widow
and Miss Watson have attempted to change in Huck. Pap is a mess: his hair is uncut
and hangs like vines in front of his face, he is unshaven, and his skin is very pale.
Paps looks reflects Hucks feelings as he demands that Huck quits school, stops
reading, and avoids church. Huck managed to stay away from his father for a while,
but Pap kidnaps him three or four months after Huck starts to live with the Widow
and takes him to a lonely cabin deep in the Missouri woods. Once again, Huck enjoys
the freedom that he had in the beginning of the book. Huck soon realizes that he will
have to escape from the cabin if he wishes to remain alive. As a result, Huck makes it
appear as if he was killed in the cabin while Pap was away. He leaves to go to a
remote island in the Mississippi River, Jacksons Island.
After, he leaves his fathers cabin Huck meets Miss Watsons slave, Jim. Huck
found Jim on Jacksons Island because the slave ran away because he overheard a
conversation that he will soon be sold to New Orleans. Huck begins to realize that
Jim has more talents and Intelligence than Huck. They begin to get to know
eachother as they float on a raft down the Mississippi River. Huck begins to enjoy
being with Jim and starts to care for him. In conclusion of chapter 11, Huck and
Jim are forced to leave Jacksons Island because Huck discovers they are looking for
a runaway slave. They have a friendship that is unseperable as hey keep drifting
down the river as the novel continues. At the end of their journey, neither having
anything left to run from as Hucks father was dead and Jim was a free man. IT
would seem, then that Huck and Jim had run at thousand miles down the river and
ended up where they had started from.
Mark Twain is saying a lot of things in the story. First, the book stands by
firmly saying slavery is bad mostly because it is hypocritical. It is well supported
considering Huck is able to interact with Jim as a human being, while the southern
slave society treats Jim as an object. Furthermore, the southerner representations are
pale in comparison to Hucks wits and intelligence. For example, when the slave
catchers who are tricked into thinking Jim is Hucks small pox riddled father, and the
whole feud thing does not show much in the line of smarts for southern slave owners.
On a superficial level Huckleberry Finn might appear to be racist. The first time you
read the description of Jim it is a very negative description. Although Huck is not a
racist child, he has been raised by extremely racist individuals who have ingrained
some feelings of bigotry into his mind. In chapter six, Hucks father fervently objects
to the governments granting of suffrage to an educated black professor. Twain wants
the reader to see the absurdity in this statement. Hucks father believes that he is
superior to this black professor simply because of the color of his skin. When Huck
first meets Jim, he makes a enormous decision, not to turn Jim in. Many times
throughout the novel Huck comes very close to rationalizing Jims slavery. However,
he is never able to see a reason why this man who has become on of his only friends,
should be a slave. Through this struggle, Twain expresses his opinions of the
absurdity of slavery and the importance of following ones personal conscience
before the laws of society. In my opinion, Mark Twain is using race as a single
element in his entire picture of the hypocrisy in his society. He isnt showing that the
whole race issue as much as he is showing the society he lives in. He uses race to
demonstrate the hypocrisy of the rich and the middle class, among other things. What
other way does he show this then by demonstrating the facets of a society of snobby
landowners then by showing the vulgarity of their vocabulary. The dialects of the
people, white and black, what a study they are; and yet nobody talks for the sake of
exhibiting a dialect. For instance, when they say Niger. If Mark Twain is saying
anything about race, he is making an allegorical statement complaining that the civil
war did not end slavery. Also, that living conditions are still undesirable for most
blacks. For example, when Jim was free for over two weeks, he suffered mostly when
he had his freedom. Huck has an struggle with is conscience in regard to slavery.
His conscience tells him to help the runaway to escape and to aid in stealing the
property of Miss Watson, who has never injured him. It is an enormous offense that
will definitely carry him to the bad place; but his feelings for Jim finally induces him
to violate his conscience and risk eternal punishment in helping Jim to escape. The
whole study of Hucks moral nature is as serious as it is amusing. His confusion of
wrong as right and his abnormal mendacity, could be followed to his training from
birth, is a singular contribution to the investigation of human nature.
Mark Twains next statement about society is Religion. The hypocrisy of
religion comes when Miss Watson, because of her religion, treats blacks as objects
even though the bible says that people should be treated equally. He also puts a
scene in at the church, where the Shepard sons and Grangerfords have gathered to
hear a sermon about brotherly love. Well at the sermon both families have guns in
their hands and kill eachother after the service is through. Both the King and the
Duke showed a ridiculous degree of corruptness that it is difficult to believe that all
humans arent at least somewhat evil. Another point made by the author is when Col.
Sherbun shot the drunk Boggs and the townsfolk came after Sherbun to murder him.
After Sherbun, one man with only a shotgun, held off the immense mob and made
them disperse, it was obvious that no individual really had the courage to go through
the murder. The idea that people are basically savages, confined for the moment by
society, is shown in more than one instance, such as when the war between the
Shephardsons and the Grangerfords. The aspect of people being basically hypocrites
is seen at the beginning when Miss Watson displays a degree of hypocritically on
insisting that Huck follow the Widow and become civilized, while at the same time
deciding to sell Jim into a hard life down the river,. A final point seems to be that
Man is continually fleeing from something. Mark Twain put a main character who
rejects religion, yet Huck, for the most part, has the clearest view of society. Their
journey down the river sets the stage for most of Mark Twains comments about man
and society. It is when they stop off at various towns along the river that various
human character flaws always seem to come out. For example, the happenings that
occurred after the bringing on of the Duke and the King. These two con artists would
execute the most foolish of schemes to relieve unsuspecting townspeople of their cash.
The fact that, after being taken by a poor show they sent rave reviews of it to their
friends to avoid admitting they had been conned showed that people in groups are
afraid of losing position, and will do nearly anything to protect such.
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. That quote proves that there is neither a motive, moral, nor a
plot. You have to put the pieces to the puzzle by your own thoughts. The warning in
the book is that persons attempting to seek a moral in the story should be banished.
Mark Twain turns his knowledge of Western dialects to account. He knows that
children will not read a dull book. He never makes a dull one. In my opinion, I think
that he made the story to make people confused. He didnt want anyone to know a
moral to the story. Maybe he even thought his book would sell more by writing that
quote. Authors have many ideas in their minds and they have many ways to confuse
you and make you curious. When it came to a point to figure out the moral, it made
you more confused than anything. There were so many things. For example,
religion, racism, abuse, and many other things. There is very little of literary art in