Posted by: istop4books | February 19, 2009

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tor Classics) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve read this for a bookcrossing readalong. We read about 50 pages a week and commented on what we read as we progressed. Some of my comments follow:

Week 1: I finally found my copy and got caught up to week two this morning!

I’m enjoying this immensely. I must say that at times, especially when Jim is talking, I read it aloud. It helps to slow me down enough to figure out what he’s trying to say. And even then there have been words that had me stumped for awhile. They definitely have a southern drawl around Southern Illinois and Missouri and Twain captured it perfectly!

Getting over the hump of the language nuances and misspelled words, I began to wonder who the target audience was when Twain wrote this book. It was written well after the Civil War, at a time when in the US, anti-black sentiment was once again rampant and the Jim Crow laws were in the air. However, the book is set well before the Civil War. I also wondered how popular this book was at the time of publication. Was it published in book format? Or serialized in a newspaper? I’ll have to look these things up and do a bit of research.

Where do these questions come from? It seemed very apparent to me that Twain was trying to teach a lesson, to showcase the blatant bigotry and prejudice running rampant through the southern states. He writes this amusing, humorous story of a naughty, ignorant child, who has had little in the way of informal education, much less formal education. Huck befriends scoundrals along the way and gets into all sorts of scrapes, pulls innocent boyish pranks, and protects and befriends Jim, a runaway slave at the same time. So was Twain aiming this book at young boys, their parents, or a more general audience?

Week 2: Questions 1 & 2 (Why was this book so controversial and banned in many schools?)

1. I’m sure that at one point the plot of the story made it controversial, but when my kids went to school in the 1990’s, parents received a letter which we had to sign authorizing our children to be in the classroom while this was taught. If we preferred, the kids could read an alternate selection. They specifically mentioned the “n” word and not the plot.

2. I think Twain was sending a serious message- even though there’s a disclaimer at the beginning of the book stating that we shouldn’t over analyze it. There are themes of racism, injustice, silly rules of society that run through the book. It seems that Twain showed a lot of very seemingly nice people owning slaves and treating them as a piece of property. When Jim talks about making money and saving every penny so he could go and buy his wife’s freedom, and then see about getting his 2 kids- this is treated very casually, but packs a huge punch as to the owners who originally thought it was “sivilized” to separate a human family. Huck flies by the seat of his pants, reinvents the wheel and is unencumbered by all the social mores of the times, and seems to do so with a stronger moral compass than most.

Week 3;Re: the point twain is making is very simple

I have to agree with you on this. The simplistic thinking of Huck lays the ideas out in basic terms without becoming preachy. By doing this, Twain allows the reader to figure out what’s wrong with the big picture of pre-Civil War society through Huck’s advemtures.

Week 4: I just got caught up

and have enjoyed reading all the comments. I’m still not sure why Twain chose to keep that raft moving South and I’m wondering how it gets resolved in the end.

I’ve loved reading Huck’s struggles with himself, with his version of right and wrong and how he decides to do what’s wrong to the “sivilized world,” but right to him. The dialog is absolutely brilliant!

I think the Mighty Mississippi River, is an important theme in the book as it allows Huck his freedom. Away from society’s precepts he can come to his own conclusions and decide for himself as to what to do as he wrestles with right and wrong, good and bad, and the entrenched biases of society. He slowly begins to develop into his own person and experience major personal growth as he flows down the river. Being on shore allow him to contrast more of the reality of life in its treatment of slaves (which hadn’t changed that much at the time that Twain wrote the book) and his own newly formed thoughts.

Week 5: Well, I’m still scratching my head at this book. It sort of fell apart for me at the end. I don’t understand the introduction of Tom Sawyer, with his immature, and at times idiotic ideas, and his influence on a much grown-up Huck. The way the book ended made me want to slap both Tom and Huck upside the top of their heads.

View all my reviews.


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