The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

(Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn, #2)

Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft"

Mark Twain's tale of a boy's picaresque journey down the Mississippi on a raft conveyed the voice and experience of the American frontier as no other work has done before. When Huck escapes from his drunken father and the 'sivilizing' Widow Douglas with the runaway slave Jim, he embarks on a series of adventures that draw him to feuding families and the trickery of the unscrupulous 'Duke' and 'Daupin'. Beneath the exploits, however, are more serious undercurrents--of slavery, adult control and, above all, of Huck's struggle between his instinctive goodness and the corrupt values of society, which threaten his deep and enduring frienship with Jim.

“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.”

It looks like Huckleberry Finn will be yet another classic I kind of fail in rating wise.

As a wee one I recall doing a mini, poorly written biography on Mark Twain for school. Why I picked him, who knows, I hadn’t read his stuff. That didn’t change until now either, where my first encounter is Huckleberry Finn, a book I rushed into enthusiastically, convinced I’d embrace this long-praised classic like a well-known friend. Sadly this wasn’t exactly the case.

There’s no argument, none, that this isn’t an awesome adventure tale. It pushed the envelope and was written full rush, the author without fear showing an abused child who runs away from his elders, a victim of fate who messes around with people, personal property, and petty crime. Certainly not a conventional protagonist for that time period, Huckleberry (what a name!) is far from perfect but that’s a star in his favor since I don’t care for one-dimensional characters. He’s not that – he has a conscience, he’s good in spirit, but also delightfully rebellious, ignorant due to circumstance, and enjoys a fib or two.

“What's the use you learning to do right when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?”

While the book wins with adventurous tales and the people Huck and Jim meet along their voyage, the dangers they escape, the near snares they avoid, my interest waned during the down time. It wasn’t the fault of the pacing, but rather my unfamiliarity with the old fashioned writing style. Dialogue is convincing and Twain full-on dishes out convincing dialect, yet this can grow irritating after awhile if I have to spend too much brain time away from the book trying to figure out what’s being said.

For a political soap-box story, this book has been commonly banned because of the “n” word usage. Here I see reviews disliking the book for that word as well.

I say, with this detestable word, that hiding from history or altering it (such as changing the word to robot in certain modern versions) doesn't do favors. It is history, it was the reality word then. If I read a modern book where this word was embraced, I would be offended. But with this book, published in the 1800s, I am not. Ironically it was banned for being anti-slavery when first released. It’s kind of strange now people see the word as too close to racism for comfort, so shun it for the opposite reasons now.

If the book kept this word up and promoted slavery of the times, I’d be more sympathetic to the outcries on not reading it. In reality, the author makes the situation of Jim a grim one, making the reader sympathize with the positive character of the story, see how horrible slavery was, and paints a nasty picture of it. It’s showing reality of those times but showing it as horrible, not something to be encouraged.

Overall it’s a worthy story, I can see why it gained it’s classic status – good characterization, interesting developments, a nice wrapped-up ending, unconventional plot surprises for the time period – it’s just a little difficult to stay enthralled with due to the time period I’m in now and the limited attention span I’ve developed.

   Book Quotes:

“There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.” 

 “If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.”

   Movie Trailer:

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