Huckleberry Finn

In the novel by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the two main characters, Huck and Jim, are strongly linked. Their relation is portrayed by various sides, some of them good and some others bad. But the essential interest of that relation is the way that uses the author to describe it. Even if he had often been misunderstood, Twain always implied a message behind the themes developed around Huck and Jim.

The first encounter between Huck Finn and Jim is at the beginning of the book, when Huck’s friend, Tom Sawyer, tries to fool Jim, Miss Watson’s slave. Huck and Jim still don’t know each other, but Huck isn’t biased against the old slave. It’s an important point because, as racism was a widely held mentality in the South, we can learn that that young boy was more open-minded than most people there. Later, they find themselves in the same situation. As they were escaping from the civilized world, they take refuge in the Jackson’s Island, on the Mississippi river. Huck is running away from a bad father and Jim has leaved Miss Watson because he didn’t want to be sold to New Orleans.

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Soon after joining Jim on the island, Huck begins to realize that Jim has more talents and intelligence than Huck has been aware of. Jim knows “all kinds of signs” 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. As important, Huck feels a comfort with Jim that he has not felt with the other major characters in the novel. With Jim, Huck can enjoy the best aspects of his earlier influences. Jim’s meaning to Huck changes as they proceed through their adventure. He starts out as an extra person just to take on the journey, but they transform into a friend. “It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger.”(chap. XV) Huck tries to squeal on Jim but can’t because he remembers that Jim called him “de bes’ fren’ I ever had;…de on’y white genlman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim.”(chap. XVI) Huck realizes that he can not turn Jim in since they both act as runaway outcasts on the river. The support they have for each other sprouts friendship. As does the Widow, Jim allows Huck security, but Jim is not as confining as is the Widow. Like Tom Sawyer, Jim is intelligent but his intelligence is not as intimidating or as imaginary as is Tom’s. As does 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.” This feeling is in marked contrast with Huck’s feelings concerning other people in the early part of the novel where he always is uncomfortable and wishes to leave them.

The lack of comfort is also shared by Jim. As a slave, he truly feels like an outcast. Considering the context of the United States at that period, during the slavery conflict, we easily understand the situation of Jim. And one of the main ideas of this Mark Twain’s masterpiece deals with a multiracial couple’s story. The relationship between black and white was hardly accepted in the 1830’s. Such an adventure, two male characters, with opposite colour of skin, striking up a friendship, was considered as a provocation by the society. The author knows that very well and will try, through his two heroes, to denounce the drifting of the Nation. Irony is his main weapon against that obscurantism. He uses it as often as possible. For instance, on chapter XIV, Huck tries to explain to Jim why a Frenchman is a man, even if he speaks differently. The ironical feature comes from the fact that this black slave doesn’t understand the equality of all people, whereas himself isn’t considered equal by the white. Besides, another ironical aspect is that we think first, in that chapter, that the white boy will civilize the black man whereas we’ll discover further that it is the contrary.

First person brings the reader a more innocent side of the story, so the reader feels more compassion for the small boy. The symbolic image falls into play between Huck and Jim, “…en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren’s en makes ’em ashamed…”(chap. XV), this made Huck open his eyes for the first time in his life. Jim for the first time shows feelings for Huck and lets him know you don’t treat people who care for you like “trash”. This makes Huck aware that Jim means more to him than just someone’s slave, he now considers him a true friend. Next, Huck finally sees Jim’s loyalty toward him, “…so Jim he said he would stand the first half of it for me…”(chap. XX), keeping a special watch not waking him on his turn, “…I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn…”(chap. XXIII). Even the little things like not waking Huck, show more than just an undying friendship. The symbolism of a grown man and a child had more effect instead of having two grown men, because a child needs a father figure. Jim fit the description and perfectly provided that for him.

The mutual affection between Huck and Jim will even lead them to sorts of sacrifices. When Huck discovers that Jim has been captured, Huck must decide whether to turn in Jim and tell Miss Watson, or accept going to hell. He finally chooses “hell” when he says, “I took it letter to Miss Watson up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute…and then says to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell,’ and tore it up.”(chap. XXXI) Huck’s sacrifice for his friend Jim, a man he has come to view as a father, forces Huck to accept a life of everlasting pain and anguish. In reality, Huck’s sacrifice is a noble and uncharacteristic achievement, allowing Huck to unknowingly be bound for heaven.

Jim’s sacrifice, although small in his own mind, is in fact one of the bravest sacrifices made throughout this book. For example, after Tom gets shot in the leg, Jim displays his concern for Tom as he says, “No, sah-I doan’ budge a step out’n dis place ‘dout a doctor; not if it’s forty year!” Despite all of the racist and harsh tricks Tom has played on Jim, Jim risks his life to save his “friend.” Rather than abandon Tom, Jim is willing to risk his freedom to save Tom’s life. Moreover, as Jim makes this brave sacrifice, Huck thinks to himself, “I knowed he was white inside.”(chap. XL) Through Jim’s sacrifice for Tom, Huck discovers that all men, including blacks, are in fact equal. Huck no longer looks down upon Jim as a “nigger,” but rather as an equal human being. Lastly, the doctor describes Jim’s heroic sacrifice to the Phelps and tells them that, “He ain’t a bad nigger…and I never see a nigger that was a better nuss or faithfuler, and yet he was risking his freedom to do it save Tom.”(chap. XLII) Jim risked his freedom to save an insolent, racist white boy who had treated him, not as an equal, but as an inferior, unequal nigger. Jim’s sacrifice is clearly an act of bravery far more heroic than the sacrifice Huck made earlier in the novel.

Huck and Jim’s sacrifices for each other, however different, also present many similarities. For example, Huck and Jim both think they are sacrificing themselves for a friend. Huck sacrifices himself for a black friend he has come to love as an equal. Similarly, Jim sacrifices himself for a friend, when in reality, he is risking his freedom to save the life of a racial bigot, Tom. In addition, both sacrifices have as a consequence a life of everlasting hell. When Huck sacrifices himself for Jim, he accepts a literal hell (that is truly the path to heaven). Jim, on the other hand, accepts a life of figurative hell in slavery, when he is in fact free all along. Finally, each sacrifice shares irony, in that they were both based on unknown pieces of unknown, but significant pieces of information. Huck is unaware that his decision of accepting “hell” will actually lead to his salvation and ironically decides on doing what the thinks is “wrong.” Likewise, Jim is unaware that he is free, and is not risking his freedom in saving Tom.

In making these two brave sacrifices, Huck and Jim achieve a higher character than if they had chosen easier paths. Huck’s willingness to face hell to protect Jim and Jim’s willingness to face capture and slavery to save Tom, both contribute to the overall theme of racial equality/inequality present throughout the book. Huck and Jim’s journey down the Mississippi River has led them to look past colour boundaries, and discover that “all me are created equal.”

Huckleberry Finn

Many people think that Huckleberry Finn is a racist novel and they have even gone as far as banning the novel from certain schools. They base this view on the fact that the word “nigger” is used very often and they see the black people being portrayed in a degrading way to show that they are inferior to the white society. Contrary to this idea, Huckleberry Finn is not a racist novel. Mark Twain actually attacks racism by satirizing the lifestyle of the white people and shows that they have no reason at all to think that they are better than the blacks. This satirizing of the white people is effectively seen in the portrayal of the king and the duke.

Mark Twain starts to mock the king and the duke as soon as they are first introduced in the novel. Their appearance gives a negative impression right from the start. The king is described as having, “an old battered-up slouch hat on, and a greasy blue woolen shirt,” and he’s wearing, “ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed into his boot tops.”(Pg. 121) The duke is described as much the same. This first impression makes us feel as if these men are scum and we don’t have a very good perception of them.The second thing that these men do also is used to mock society in two ways. The first man (the duke) makes up a story that he was actually the Duke of Bridgewater. He said that he was the son of the infant duke that was ignored to take over a position. Not to be outdone, the second man (the king) makes up a story that he was actually the rightful King of France. Mark Twain uses Huck Finn to show what he thinks of these two men. “It didn’t take me to long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds.”(Pg.125) These men are putting up a false front just like society does and Mark Twain shows through Huck that he can see right through this false front. The second thing that is mocked is the fact that these people pretend that they are royalty. Jim wonders why these men carry on so much and Huck tells him, ” . . .because it’s in the breed. I reckon they’re all alike,” and he also says, “all kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out.” Mark Twain is showing here that society wants to feel established and be connected to royalty and what they don’t realize is that most kings are scoundrels. The duke and the king really seem to fulfill this role of scoundrels quite well king and the duke really show that they are scoundrels by being very greedy. Mark Twain shows his disgust for societies greed through the king and the duke. He is trying to show that society today is full of greed and only concerning itself with its needs only. The duke and the king show their greed by selling Jim to Mr. Phelps in order to make forty dollars eveafter all Huck and Jim had done to help them. (pg.205) Another incident concerning greed occurred after the plays were performed. They wanted a new way to make money so they started thinking. “These rapscallions wanted to try the Nonesuch again, because there was so much money in it, but they judged it wouldn’t be safe because maybe the news might a’ worked along down by this time.” (Pg. 155) So they did something else. They found out that Peter Wilks had died and they pretend to be his long lost brothers in order that they could steal the inheritance from the three daughter’s. They actually stoop this low just to gain some money. They only think of themselves without even considering the girls and their future. Mark Twain shows disgust for these men through Huck when he says, “It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.” We can see Mark Twains disgust for societies materialism. They will do anything that will benefit themselves.

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Mark Twain also shows his disgust for society through the king and the duke’s conniving and deceitful ways. The king and the duke pretend to be someone that they are not in order to benefit themselves. One episode that shows that they are greedy occurs when they pretended to be the world-renowned actors, Mr. Garrick and Mr. Kean. They exploit the people of Arkansas and have no problems with taking their money from them. As the duke says, “I’m in up to the hub for anything that will pay . . .”(Pg. 129) even if it means exploiting people and making them believe that they are other people. One incident that shows that the king is very sneaky and deceitful occurs at the camp meeting. The king gives a speech that states that he is actually a reformed pirate who wants to go back out onto the Indian Ocean and he would try to turn other pirates onto the true path. He exploits these people at church and they take up a collection for him because he needed money to get to the pirates. (Pg. 132) Mark Twain shows that these men have no conscience or morals.

The king and the duke represent society very well in their lifestyle. Mark Twain satirizes them for the purpose of making society realize what they are doing wrong. This book wasn’t written to show that society is racist against black people, it was written to change society’s mentality of how they view the blacks in order that they will change their wrong thinking. Mark Twain attacks racism by focussing on the white people and their wrongdoings for the intent of changing them to see that everyone is equal no matter what color.

Huckleberry Finn

The character Huck Finn, portrayed in the classic novel Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain, is a fun loving and adventurous young man. Only Mr. Twain
knows his exact age, as it is never mentioned once in the novel. We can only
guess that he is in his early teens. Mr. Twain also does not give an accurate
description of Huck in the book either. Judging from the many things that he
does, you can tell that he is neither a muscular person nor a skimpy weakling. He
has the physique of a run of the mill country farm boy.

The narration of this novel is very interesting. I liked how they reproduced
the southern vernacular in its true form. “En wid I fetch’ her a slap side de head
dat sont her a-sprawlin. pg156″, although it is very hard to understand, it
adds to the overall experience of reading this book. This book is also narrated
from Huckleberry Finns point of view. This makes the book more interesting at
times because you actually can tell what Huck is thinking during given situations.
He is also a very literal narrator, He tells everything as accurately as he can and
never really exaggerates the situations to any remarkably big extent. This is also
a very humorous book and Huck, being very literal minded, has no sense of
humor. He doesn’t get the punch lines to jokes or funny situations”when the
drunk man was riding a horse, he thought that he was not really an acrobat.”
Also, he took the age old joke about where mosses was when the lights went out
seriously. This also makes him such an enjoyable character and makes the book
so enjoyable to read. Just that at times he can seem like an idiot, like when he
really belived, for quite a while, that genies existed and that he could rub a lamp
and get his wishes granted. I like this narration style because it really helps you
to get to know Huck from his internal actions and reactions. It’s hard to tell a lot
about a character by how he talks sometimes, that’s why I prefer this narration
style to others.

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It seems that Huck has a very strange personality. I would describe his
personality as “free”. He does everything he wants and nothing seems to stand in
his way for long. He definitely wouldn’t be considered a “proper” young man by
today’s standards. For instance, he prefers to wear tattered, loose fitting, rags to
nice clean cloths. I guess it goes along with his personality. He also prefers to eat
differently than we would. He likes all of his food to be mixed up in one pot,
compared to the “normal” way of eating with different dishes and food on
separate areas of our plates. I would consider Huck to be more of an
outdoorsman. He loves to be outside with nature and doesn’t like to be indoors
that much. In fact, in the book he is never really inside on his own free will. He
would rather be outside on his adventures. He likes the simpler way of life.

Huck’s personality is also very adaptable. He is a country boy at heart but
adapted to the high class living of the Widow. He can then quickly adapt to living
in the woods with Pap, or on a raft with Jim. He could even adapt to living with
the Grangerfords. He seems to act very natural during these different situations.
This helps him function and interact with others more easily.

At times Huck doesn’t show very good common sense or compassion.
Like when he teased Jim when he was locked up in a cell. They would give him a
ladder to escape, but he was in a one-story cell. Then they would give him chains
because if he was jailed up he should be in chains. They also gave him pieces of
metal to make into saws to cut himself out. They could have just given him a
saw! We were not required to read these chapters because they did not fit in the
book at all and were just a waste of space because it didn’t accurately portray
Hucks personality. Huck would not have left him in there for so long. Many critics
of this book have also said that these, and other, chapters have no place in this

He did show compassion many times in the novel though. Mostly towards
the end. Like how the king and the duke try to swindle the wilkes money and he
steals it and then gives it back. He also could have just kept the money and
bought him a lot of nice things, but he mostly knows right from wrong, and taking
their money was not right in hucks eyes.

As I was reading Huckleberry Finn since we received the book, I have
come across many feelings about this character. liked some of what I read and I
didn’t like many other parts. I felt that Mark Twain didn’t keep things consistent
enough. This book is a good book, but clearly could have been a lot better. I
didn’t like the way Huck behaved during a few chapters of the novel. They
sometimes made absolute no sense and didn’t fit in with the novel. They could
have easily have been left out of the book and it still would have been a classic.
They way Huck behaved in the aforementioned paragraph was clearly not
thought out the way the rest of the book was. Huck is one of America’s favorite
fictional characters and I can see why, for most of the book.

Overall, Huckleberry Finn is a superbly written character. Despite how
simple minded he may seem, he has a few qualities that are lacking in modern
books, and from books of the time. He is the main reason that this book is such
an enjoyable experience to read, and I’m sure that it will be loved for many years
to come.


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