Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Length: 2795 words (8 double-spaced pages)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn was the main character. The story was told through his eyes, and most of the events that took place happened around him. But some of these events would not have happened without other main characters as well, like Jim, Tom Sawyer, the King, or the Duke.
Huck’s personality at the start of the novel had changed gradually throughout the novel and until the end. At first, Miss Watson tried to make him pray for things but Huck did not believe in praying because it brought him bad luck. Later in the novel, Huck tries to pray for forgiveness and wants to erase his sin for stealing a nigger. After he prays, he feels he can pray openly now and will not sin anymore (CH. 31). Huck was also superstitious and believed that everything that went wrong was because of certain things he did, like the snake in Jim’s blanket. And everything was blamed on the bad luck Huck and Jim had. Huck also became kind, especially after the quarrel with his father, pap. He learned that in order to get along with people (like the king and duke), you have to let them have their way, and Huck did.
Jim, at first, was looked upon as just an ordinary nigger. But Huck and Tom soon realized that he was very smart and had helped Huck through most of his adventures. But as a nigger, Jim was looked up to as a hero to other niggers. For instance, Huck tells the reader when niggers from all over the country came to see Jim and hear of his heroic stories and every nigger wanted to be like Jim. Jim was also very superstitious, especially in chapter eight when Jim talks about all of his superstitions, like counting the things for dinner and telling the bees that their owner had just died. All of this supposedly brought bad luck.
Tom Sawyer was also a very influential character to the story. He was the one who came up with all the solutions for things, which eventually made more of a disaster. But that is because he followed stories too much. For instance, in chapter 35, Jim is captured and Tom tries the most original and hardest way to get him out, thus creating more of a catastrophe.
Tom is also a big liar. He tries to tell Huck about rubbing a tin lamp and making a genie appear. He also lies about his identity to his aunt, but Huck was also a big liar in that situation as well. One of the biggest characteristics Tom had was that he was too egotistic and did not listen to anyone’s ideas. For example, in trying to free Jim, Tom does not listen to any of Huck’s ideas to get Jim out and just does it his own way.
Around the middle of the story, Huck was passing along a “crick” when he saw two men, of whom he would soon meet. One of the men looked to be around thirty years old and told Huck and Jim that he was the Duke of Bridgewater. However, not until about the end of the novel did Huck and Jim find out that this man was just a fraud, like everything else in his life. For instance, the duke, Huck, Jim, and the king (also the other man) had begun an adventure on a river to nearby towns to fraud people and earn of money. On of the first scams was a Shakespeare show in which the duke and king had presented. The crowd was outraged in the play’s performance and disliked it very much, especially when Colonel Sherburn shot the man and the play was stopped. But since the duke was skilled in printing, he persuaded the crowd to not tell the town about the play so that other people could come and spend money to see the duke and king perform.
The king, also like the duke, was a big fraud and lied about almost everything. Out of the three nights that the Shakespeare performance was held, the duke and king had made around 465 dollars. Despite the king’s earnings and lying, he proved to be very pious and concerned, especially when he meets Mary Jane and grieves with her family about the death of Peter Wilks. However, half of the reason he was being so caring was because he saw an opportunity to receive a large amount of money, so he pretended to be a family member of Peter Wilks.
One of the first minor characters that had a big influence on Huck was his father, pap. Pap was one of the major reasons Huck had ran away, mainly because pap was very aggressive. As for his appearance, Huck described him as being unclean and dressed in rags. Pap was also an alcoholic and was very controlling over Huck, especially when money had come into place.
The first encounter that Huck had with his fake identity was with a woman named Judith. She caught on to Huck’s lie very easily but knew he was a hurt little boy that needed some direction. So she was caring enough to help him on his travel and was generous in letting Huck stay there until he left for Goshen.
In chapter 17, Huck finds a farm in “Arkansaw” and the family living there gladly accepted him. One of their children, Buck, had become Huck’s new companion, although Buck was more interested in killing animals and his family’s rivalry. Buck was also treated like an adult, although he was only thirteen years old, by smoking pipes and carrying a gun at all times.
Probably the most important setting in the novel was the island. The island was three miles long and contained deep woods and many fruits. Huck had stayed there for three days and nights and this setting was the basis for his adventure. On this island, he had met Jim, soon to be his best companion, and learned many tricks of survival on different lands.
Another major setting was the farmhouse in “Arkansaw”. This was the house with Buck and his family. Huck described it as being a nice house with a big fireplace and big brass dog irons and many other elegant features. It also contained many beautiful paintings and poetry, written by one of the daughters Emmeline. But it only served Huck for a couple nights until he left with Jim down the river again.
The last major setting, also probably the most influential setting, was the house of Mary Ann and the two other sisters of Peter Wilks. Huck had to stay there with the king and duke in order for them to persuade the family into selling the house and giving a lot of money to the kind and duke. But this drew the line for Huck, and he soon changed his ways and had to stop the king’s nonsense. So, he stopped lying and wanted to tell Mary Ann about the money in the coffin and how the king was not related to Peter Wilks.
One of the major themes of the novel is the separation of races. Over the course of the novel, Huck's opinion of Jim changes. In the beginning of their voyage, Huck feels he shouldn't be helping Jim to freedom and almost turns him in to slave catchers. Huck says on page 87, "I was paddling off, all in a sweat to tell on him; but when he says this (that Huck is his one and only friend) it seemed to take the tuck all out of me." Huck soon realizes that he enjoys Jim's company and when the duke and the king sell Jim, Huck breaks down and cries. When asking the duke where Jim was, Huck says on page 208, “‘Sold him’ I says, and begun to cry; ‘why he was my nigger, and that was my money. Where is he? -- I want my nigger.’" Jim was important to Huck because he knew all kinds of signs about the future, people's personalities, and weather forecasting. Even more important, Huck feels a comfort with Jim that he has not felt with the other major characters in the novel. With Jim, Huck can enjoy the best aspects of his earlier influences. Jim allows Huck freedom, but he does it in a loving, rather than an uncaring, fashion. Thus, early in their relationship on Jackson's Island, Huck says to Jim on page 76, "This is nice. I wouldn't want to be nowhere else but here."
Before the novel begins, Huck Finn has led a life of absolute freedom. His drunken and often missing father never paid much attention to him; his mother was dead and when the novel began, Huck was not used to following any rules. The book's opening finds Huck living with the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Both women were fairly old and were really somewhat incapable of raising a rebellious boy like Huck Finn. Nevertheless, they attempt to make Huck into what they believed would be a better boy. As Huck said, they wanted to "sivilize" him. Huck, who had never followed many rules in his life, found the demands the women placed upon him constraining and the life lonely. As result, soon after he first moves in with them, he ran away. He soon came back, but even though he became somewhat comfortable with his new life as the months go by, Huck never really enjoys the life of manners, religion, and education that the Widow and her sister imposed upon him.
Then, Huck believes he will find some freedom with Tom Sawyer. Huck is eager to join Tom Sawyer's Gang because he feels that doing so will allow him to escape the boring life he leads with the Widow Douglas. Unfortunately, such an escape does not occur. Tom Sawyer promises robbing stages, murdering and ransoming people, kidnapping beautiful women, but none of this happens. Huck finds out too late that Tom's adventures are imaginary. Another person who tries to get Huck to change is pap. Pap's appearance reflects his feelings, as he demands that Huck quit school, stops reading, and avoids church. Huck is able to stay away from pap for a while, but pap kidnaps Huck three or four months after Huck starts to live with the Widow and takes him to a lonely cabin deep in the Missouri woods. Here, Huck enjoys the freedom that he had prior to the beginning of the book. But Huck begins to become dissatisfied with this life and Huck soon realizes that he will have to escape from the cabin if he wishes to remain alive. As a result of his concern, Huck makes it appear as if he is killed in the cabin while pap is away, and leaves to go to a remote island in the Mississippi River, Jackson's Island.
Then, his adventure down the Mississippi begins. It is after he leaves his father's cabin that Huck joins yet another important influence in his life: Miss Watson's slave, Jim. Soon after joining Jim on Jackson's Island, Huck begins to realize that Jim has more talents and intelligence than Huck has been aware of. The first encounter they came upon was the island itself, in which they explored thoroughly. From there, they reached their first problem, which was trying to escape from Huck’s father and friends, and then travel to St. Petersburg. In St. Petersburg, Huck disguises himself as a woman in order to disguise his identity, but the woman he meets soon realizes he is just a man in trouble. From there, Huck and Jim lose the boat and travel down the river until they come upon a wreck and some fog, where Huck loses their raft once more.
The next big event was in “Arkansaw” when Huck and Jim encounter a farmhouse. Soon, Huck goes up to the house and enters it, only being greeted by a feudal family. Huck spends a few days their, experiencing the feud between two families and finally escapes one night to go back to Jim by the river. Now, the two drift down the river once more, only to find two men who were soon to be their new companions: the duke and the king. All four of them set out to different towns, conning the townspeople into seeing ridiculous plays. However, the duke and the king got away with it and earned a great deal of money. While going through one town, the town drunk, Boggs, came into the picture and was shot by Colonel Sherburn. This stirred up the town and the people confronted the Colonel at his house, only to be turned away.
Towards the end of the novel, the four meet up with a stranger who tells of a dead man, Peter Wilks. This gives the duke and the king a great idea to change their identity to a relative of Mr. Wilks and con his family for money. Mr. Wilks sister was persuaded and the king had the money in his possession, until Huck took it and hid it. Huck finally confessed to hiding the money and the townsmen went to try to recover it. While doing so, Huck escapes once more. Soon, Huck encounters Tom Sawyer’s aunt, and Huck portrays to be Tom. However, this only creates more problems. Jim is captured and is held in a little hut, and Tom comes to help Huck free him. Jim gets free after days and days of hard work, but Tom gets shot and Jim finds a doctor for him. Eventually, Tom confesses to his aunt about the lie and Huck will soon live with Tom’s aunt, whom he dislikes.
One of the main symbols in the novel was the Mississippi River. It was a symbol from the start of Huck’s adventure until the end. What makes it a symbol is that it was an opening for Huck’s escape and gave him the opportunity to explore the country and be free. In other words, it was his course for self-discovery and the source of danger, delight, and meditation.
Another symbol in the novel was the fog in chapter fifteen. Since Huck and Jim had just begun their adventure, any obstacles that they encounter will be treacherous for them. Well, the fog was a symbol of one of these obstacles in which Huck and Jim had to pass in order to advance. However, it took patience and Huck really had to dig down inside himself and stay calm or else a disaster would have occurred. So this fog symbolized a warning and there would be many more warnings to come.
The third symbol in the novel was the feud between the two families in Arkansas: the Grangerfords and the Shepherdson. During the Civil War, the south was prominent for starting many feuds with the federates as well as other southerners. The south had often taken a feud from several years ago and kept the feud alive. The two families in this novel did the same. One family killed a member of the other family, so the other family killed a member of the first family in order to get pay back. Eventually, the two went back and forth, creating a feud, which symbolizes how the Civil War had taken place.
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the story was told through the eyes of Huck Finn, the main character in the novel. Thus, the point of view was the 1st person because Huck had narrated the story while being a character in the novel. Throughout the novel, I had read the word “I” at least a thousand times because that is all Huck talked about: himself and what is happening around him. But that is only normal because he cannot tell of other things unless he sees them or hears about them, so he can only say what happens in his own view.
There are countless quotes I can use to prove my statement, but here are a couple that are said by Huck as he narrates the story:
“I don’t know how long I was asleep, but all
of a sudden there was an awful scream and I was
up. There was pap looking wild, and skipping
around every which way and yelling about snakes.”
“They went off and I got aboard the raft, feeling
bad and low, because I knowed very well I had
done wrong, and I see it warn’t no use for me to
try to learn to do right…”