The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainAfter reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I realized that I had absolutely nothing to say about it. And yet here, as you see, I have elected to say it anyway, and at great length.
Reading this novel now, at the age of mumble-mumble, is a bit like arriving at the circus after the tents have been packed, the bearded lady has been depilated, and the funnel cake trailers have been hitched to pick-up trucks and captained, like a formidable vending armada, toward the auburn sunset. All the fun has already been used up, and I’m left behind circumnavigating the islands of elephant dung and getting drunk on Robitussin®. Same story, different day.
How exactly did I make it through eight total years of high school and undergraduate studies in English without having read any Mark Twain but a brief (and forgotten) excerpt from Life on the Mississippi? Isn’t this illegal by now? I mean, isn’t there a clause in the Patriot Act... an eleventh commandment... a dictate from Xenu? Isn’t Huckleberry Finn, like Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird, now an unavoidable teenage road bump between rainbow parties and huffing spray paint? Isn’t it the role of tedious classic literature to add color and texture to the pettiness of an adolescence circumscribed by status updates, muff shaving, and shooting each other? Or am I old-fashioned?
Let’s face it. In the greater social consciousness, there are two stars of this book: (1) the word nigger and (2) the Sherwood Schwartz-style ending in which Tom Sawyer reappears and makes even the most casual reader wonder whether he might not be retarded.
Huckleberry Finn, for all his white trash pedigree, is actually a pretty smart kid -- the kind of dirty-faced boy you see, in his younger years, in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart, being barked at by a monstrously obese mother in wedgied sweatpants and a stalagmite of a father who sweats tobacco juice and thinks the word coloreds is too P.C. Orbiting the cart, filled with generic cigarette cartons, tabloids, and canned meats, are a half-dozen kids, glazed with spittle and howling like Helen Keller over the water pump, but your eyes return to the small, sad boy sitting in the cart. His gaze, imploring, suggestive of a caged intellect, breaks your heart, so you turn and comparison-shop for chewing gum or breath mints. He is condemned to a very dim horizon, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, so you might as well buy some Altoids and forget about it...
That boy is the spiritual descendant of Huckleberry Finn.
The nigger controversy -- is there still one? -- is terribly inconsequential. It almost seems too obvious to point out that this is (a) firstly a period novel, meaning it that occurs at a very specific historical moment at a specific location and (b) secondly a first-person narrative, which is therefore saddled with the language, perspective, and nascent ideologies of its narrator. Should we expect a mostly uneducated, abused adolescent son of a racist alcoholic who is living in the South before the Civil War to have a respectful, intellectually-enlightened perspective toward black people? Should the character of Huck Finn, in other words, be ahistorical, anachronistic? Certainly not, if we expect any semblance of honesty from our national literature.
Far more troubling to many critics is the ending of Huckleberry Finn, when -- by a freakishly literary coincidence -- Huck Finn is mistaken for Tom Sawyer by Tom’s relatives, who happen to be holding Jim (the slave on the run) in hopes of collecting a reward from his owners. There are all sorts of contrivances in this scenario -- the likes of which haven’t been seen since the golden age of Three’s Company -- which ends with Tom arriving and devising a ridiculously elaborate scheme for rescuing Jim.
All in all, the ending didn’t bother me as much as it bothered some essayists I’ve read. That is, it didn’t strike me as especially conspicuous in a novel which relies a great deal on narrative implausibility and coincidence. Sure, Tom Sawyer is something of an idiot, as we discover, but in a novel that includes faked deaths and absurd con jobs, his idiocy seems well-placed.
In the end, I suppose the greatest thing I can say about this novel is that it left me wondering what happened to Huck Finn. Would his intellect and compassion escape from his circumstances or would he become yet another bigoted, abusive father squiring another brood of dirty, doomed children around a fluorescently-lit Wal-Mart?
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Dover Thrift Editions)
When Huckleberry Finn flees from his brutal father, he meets up with and old friend, the slave Jim, who is also running away. Together they travel by raft down the Mississippi, tumbling in and out of amazing adventures - from a floating house to a funeral, a shipwreck to a circus - and experience some of the strange ways of people in the Deep South. I read the first eight chapters of this book, and then gave up. Firstly, I got fed up with all the mentions of ghosts, witches, luck and the like. Secondly and mainly the things that the black slave, Jim, says are so difficult to read it is unbelievable!
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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Part 1: Crash Course Literature #302
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Wikipedia Book - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Download M4B MB. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of the truly great American novels, beloved by children, adults, and literary critics alike. Both are on the run, Huck from his drunk and abusive father, and Jim as a runaway slave. As Huck and Jim drift down the river, they meet many colorful characters and have many great adventures.