So he dozed off, pretty soon. By-and-by I got the old split-bottom chair and clumb up, as easy as I could, not to make any noise, an
So he dozed off, pretty soon. By-and-by I got the old split-bottom chair and clumb up, as easy as I could, not to make any noise, and got down the gun. I slipped the ram-rod down it to make sure it was loaded, and then I laid it across the turnip barrel, pointing towards pap, and set down behind it to wait for him to stir. And how slow and still the time did drag along.
This is the last paragraph from chapter 6 of this book. Huck's dad had passed out from his drunken delirium episode where he thought snakes were attacking him and he tried to hurt Huck. Huck's dad was the town drunk, and was abusive to Huck.
He only ended up back with his dad because he basically took him away from Miss Watson, who had kind of adopted Huck, and was sending him to school and teaching him to read. His dad lived in a cabin outside of town. The irony of the quotation above is that Huck really showed no emotion here. Here he is, pointing a gun at his dad who had just tried to kill him, who is passed out, and yet Huck's biggest gripe is how slow the time was moving. Huck never really shared any emotion about his dad. He actually liked living with his dad in the country - it was more his speed, he felt more at home.
He finally staged his own death to escape his dad, who had locked up in the cabin. He ran into Jim on an island by chance. Jim had run away from Miss Watson. Huck decides on a whim to free Jim. In a classic passage, Huck says he'll probably go to Hell for freeing Jim, but doing the right thing never got him anywhere, anyway.
There was an interesting parallel I just realized writing right now. Huck and Jim find a house that was being washed down the river. They take a bunch of stuff out of it for their journey, and Jim finds a dead man inside. Jim reveals much later in the story that the dead man ws Huck's dad. This parallels Jim's experience at the end of the book. Tom Sawyer makes Jim do all kind of crazy things to act like a "prisoner", and to add notoriety. This to me actually got old, because I got the point really early on. I guess for a kid it would be funny. But Tom Sawyer had known all along that Jim had been set free. So both Huck and Jim were "set free" in a way where they were actually "free" long before they knew it.
Two of the other memorable stories were where Huck encounters a family that was fueding with another family. They didn't even know why they were fighting any more, but they had each killed many people on the other side. Huck inadvertently helps a girl escape and go and marry a boy from the rival family! They set out to go kill some people, but Huck got out of there. Then there were all the tales of the swindlers, the duke, and the bugest swindler, the king. They rode with Jim and and Huck down the river, stopping at towns along the way to scam people with thier "Nonesuch" Shakespeare plays. They also posed as the benefactor of an estate, but got found out. They ultimately got tarred and feathered by people they had scammed with their nonesuch.
Obviously, irony is rich throughout the book. There is the example above. There is another example where Huck lies about a steamboat accident something like "No one was hurt. Just killed a nigger." Huck was at the same time fully indoctrinated into the slavery mentality, but also friends with Jim. But Jim was both things to Huck - just because he was a friend AND he was helping him escape didn't make him any less a slave. Another irony was when Huck says Jim was a "good nigger". This normally meant a slave worked his ass off in the fields. But Huck meant it in the sense that he was a good dad, husband and friend.
One blurb at the end of the book suggested that "identity" is the main theme of the book. It's an interesting take. How people perceived Huck changed radically throughout the book depending on the situation. Miss Watson saw him as a bright kid that needed some direction. The king and the duke saw him as a bright kid who could help with their scams. Jim saw his as his best friend. Tom Sawyer saw him as an unenlightened but loyal friend who needed to be told the right way to do things. Huck didn't see himself as overly intelligent. He just saw himself as a simple kid who liked the outdoors, basically. So maybe one point is that our identity really is intertwined with how people see us as how we see ourselves.
The book is such a classic because it's all there - kids like the story because they can relate to the mischief and adventure of a kid totally out on his own. Adults like it because of the irony and themes about identity, friendship, family relationships, and as a glimpse of 1840 America.
I'd be remiss not to mention why this book really put the Mississippi River on the map. There is a beautiful section where Huck describes life on the raft. On page 119, he says "You feel free and easy and mighty comfortable on a raft." Then chapter 19 has several pages describing the beauty of the untamed Mississippi River. Here's a sample:
Next we slid into the river to have a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee deep, and watched the daylight come. Not a sound, anywheres--perfectly still--just like the whole world was asleep, only sometimes the bull-frogs a-cluttering, maybe.
**spoiler alert** A great book about Billy Beane and the Oakland A's of the early 2000s. They were the team that lost their 3 best players and won 105**spoiler alert** A great book about Billy Beane and the Oakland A's of the early 2000s. They were the team that lost their 3 best players and won 105 games the next season, including an AL record 20 in a row! Amazing. Great story. Billy Beane used Sabermetrics and inefficiencies to build his teams. OBP is a key stat!...more
**spoiler alert** This book examines a lot of the "ultramarathon" runners, where they run 100 miles in one race, and how they are able to do what they**spoiler alert** This book examines a lot of the "ultramarathon" runners, where they run 100 miles in one race, and how they are able to do what they do. Then someone discovered this ancient indian tribe that lives in a huge canyon in Mexico. They regularly run 100 miles in a day wearing robes and primitive sandals. How can that be? This promoter got 5 of them to come to a 100 mile ultramarathon in Colorado. One of them won it, and the 5 of them finished in like the top 7. The book also looks at running shoes, and how running injuries have actually increased since they were invented 30 years ago. A couple of these "ultramarathoners" started running barefoot (or with very primitive sandals) and found they ran better. The stories of a few of these races are great, great stories, and are almost enough make me want to follow the sport. I won't tell you about those races because those are the best part of the book.
Basically, the book argues that humans evolved for endurance running. Why would this be? Back before we had invented tools to kill animals, what would have been the easiest way to kill, say, an antelope on the African savanna? Herd animals like antelopes are faster than humans over short distances, but they cannot pant while they are running. So, if you chased down an antelope long enough, the thing would collapse from lack of oxygen! The scientist also pointed out that many of the physcial features that separate humans from chimps make us much better at running. The scientist that proposed this idea tried this method of hunting antelope out in the wild in Wyoming with his brother. He was not quite able to pull it off. The antelope kept mixing back in with the herd, and they would lose track of which was which. He published his theory anyway in a magazine. One day he got a call from a guy in South Africa saying "It's easy to endurance hunt antelope. I've done it." This guy in South Africa decided to live with this ancient tribe of bushmen in South Africa for a while. There was a band of 6 of these bushmen that, as a pack, could chase down an antelope. It took 6 of them as a team to be able to keep the antelope from blending back in with the herd. A typical endurance hunt would take 2 to 4 hours, sometimes longer.
If true, this idea explains a lot, doesn't it? We have to work together as a team, practice strategy, anticipate the animals' next move, and look out for each other. After we invented tools this way of hunting became obsolete, but running is still ingrained in us.
**spoiler alert** "Dude, you owe us $1.2 Billion." The classic line! Howie Hubler lost $1.2 billion on a single trade! Another amazing Michael Lewis b**spoiler alert** "Dude, you owe us $1.2 Billion." The classic line! Howie Hubler lost $1.2 billion on a single trade! Another amazing Michael Lewis book. Lots of insight into how Wall St. works (or doesn't)....more