John's Reviews > Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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Mar 05, 2011

it was amazing
Read from March 05 to 26, 2011

Tom Sawyer is a wonderful work for children, but even better for adults. Twain captures the spirit of childhood as Tom moves from one adventure to the next. The scenes in Sunday School and church are especially good in this regard, as even the smallest thing becomes distracting, or as Tom's ulterior motives drive him to surprising actions. Further, the main characters of the book are fully formed, which results in a certain weightiness to the proceedings as the danger increases. The whole notion of the book's hero being separate from the community (in terms of his propensity to flout the rules), yet is ultimately out for the good of others, works well under Twain's more than capable pen. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the comic brilliance of many of these scenarios. There's a real love for childhood that comes through in this novel. I look forward to sharing it with my own kids when they get older.

Huck Finn is a more mature novel. It picks up the story where TS leaves off, but the shift from third person in TS to first person in HF changes the tone a great deal. Now we find ourselves in the mind of the protagonist, and while it is the mind of a child, Huck's mind is also a troubled place. The book builds its story around Huck escaping his father and taking a raft down the Mississippi, with a runaway slave--Jim--in tow. Their easygoing way with one another belies the torment that Huck feels about helping a runaway slave get away. Twain underplays this most of the way through the novel, but one senses the constant threat for Jim's safety, if not due to Huck's actions, then the actions of those around them. Twain builds to a beautifully humanistic and, dare I say, religious moment for Huck, where the boy must decide once and for all how he will handle this issue of the runaway slave. Twain gets the psychology of the dominant culture of the day, he understands how closely tied with religion it is, and he helps the reader to see certain truths clearly precisely because he chooses a boy to be his protagonist. What a great book.
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03/05/2011 page 185
30.0%
06/08/2016 marked as: read
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