Paul's Reviews > The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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Jul 21, 12

bookshelves: b-n-leatherbound-classics
Read from July 15 to 21, 2012

I first read this book in elementary school. Reading it again as an adult has allowed me to appreciate it on a new level.

As Twain states at the start of the book, "persons attempting to find a plot in [this book] will be shot." It's simply a compilation of a number of adventures that Finn has with his friend Jim, who happens to be an escaped slave, as they travel down the Mississippi River. Jim is seeking his freedom and Huck is along for the ride.

Each vignette presents us with a sample of Twain's sense of satire and the outlandish. He portrays caricature stereotypes of his time, for example, the feuding families of the Appalachian regions, pervasive racism and a constant clash between religion and superstition. The tales also become increasingly extravagant and show Huck's skill in twisting truth to manipulate others.

What strikes the modern reader most is the conflicted morality of the narrative. While Huck doesn't think twice about outright lying, cheating and defrauding others, he believes he'll go to hell because he's helping a slave escape to freedom. He acknowledges that Jim is a good and caring man, yet he still treats him as something less than fully human. Parts of the dialogue were, frankly, very difficult to read.

This novel needs to be read with the historical framework within which it was written in mind. Also, this particular volume is uncensored so it makes liberal use of "the N word" with the deepest of derogatory intent. While thought provoking, this book should be discussed with young readers so they understand the racist context.
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