Monday, June 22, 2020

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
Published 1884/85
American novel

I finally remembered that I needed to write a post about Huckleberry Finn, which I read with my kids earlier this school year. I chose it for Back to the Classics Challenge: Name in the Title. This was my second time reading this story.

Mark Twain, Utica Park
Due to the ongoing 'Rona' scamdemic and America's typical pre-presidential election-year riots, the last thing on my mind has been to write about this little American novel by a dead white guy. Makes me wonder if he would have his monuments or statues violently removed, too, given that young Americans do not know him, have not heard of him, certainly have not read him, or do not care.
I will try to do my best to share another review, but if you really want to know what I thought of my first read of Huck Finn, I suggest you check out my three short wrap up posts from 2013. I still believe in them, and they represent my sentiments even today.

But in a nutshell, even though Twain warned us not to determine what his moral was, he had a lot to say throughout the story.

For example, civilized civilization was not very civilized. Also education was not a guarantee that people had sense. Huckleberry Finn was a poor, uneducated orphan, who proved to be more sensible and sensitive than anyone who called himself moral or educated or civilized throughout the entire story.

Huck used moral judgment and resolution when determining what was right or wrong, even if society had already decided what was right or wrong. If it meant he had to oppose humanity, the law, or even a religious law that condemned him to hell, he was intent on doing what contentiously he knew was right.

Mark Twain, Monrovia Public Library
Huck's main dilemma was to either return or free Jim, a slave belonging to Miss Watson. According to law, Jim was property, and Huck was obligated under civilized society to return Jim to her; but the more time he spent in society, the more he saw how backwards everyone behaved, and how wrong they were about Jim.

Jim was an uneducated black man, but, as Huck learned during the time he spent with him, he found Jim to be kind, loyal, good, respectable, honorable, and loving. He was a man who had vulnerabilities, and he had a family that he loved and wanted to be with. As Huck witnessed the contradictions of those who determined the value or worth of black slaves and how free society treated each other, he came to understand that society was actually uncivilized, ignorant, and wrong. Huck had to use his own best judgment, even if he stood alone or became an outlaw.

Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel, written by a quintessential American author, Mark Twain. Twain was a bit arrogant and sarcastic and rather egotistical. But he pointed out hard truths, and that's why we love him.

Mark Twain, Hartford Public Library
I wish our young Americans today who are currently challenging law and order, destroying property, and taking down monuments and statues (for what they know not why), would redirect their energy and time to reading great literature and learning from authors who wielded their pen to express arguments, discuss ideas, and influence society -- because as far as I can see, we have not improved from the uncivilized society that Twain highlighted in the great American novel Huckleberry Finn.


Michelle Ann said...

I have faint memories of reading this at school - I just remember it was a good novel, so obviously time for a re-read.

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I did not like this book as well as Tom Sawyer when I was younger, but I haven't read either of them since my teens, so I think I need to revisit them. Soon.

Sharon Wilfong said...

What is happening today in our society reminds me of China in the sixties with the Red Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Both ostentatiously was ridding their countries of "rich oppressors" and fighting for the poor and weak, but all they accomplished was creating a police state.

Lately I've been wondering how people from Inter racial families are affected by all of this demonizing one group of people and demeaning the other by calling them oppressed. Inter racial families are a significant demographic in our country now.

Didn't even say anything about Huck. I read it years ago and I liked it. The only thing I do not think I liked was it seemed to me that Twain was implying that lying was justified if there was a higher good to be accomplished. Like the ten commandments were not a perfect set of rules. It seems to me he created a straw man by putting Huck in a situation where he needed to lie. I think he could have helped Jim and not lied.

Ruth said...

MICHELLE: I hope they are still having students read this is school.

HAMLETTE: Yes, TS is more adventurous, fun, carefree, and redeeming, whereas HF is sometimes difficult, arrogant, and egotistical (like Twain, right?).

SHARON: And the French Revolution. I remember writing about the FR on my homeschool blog; it's like, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Good point about interracial families, especially given that SO MANY FAMILIES ARE MIXED!!! (which is actually interesting bc it makes the whole race argument come to nothing!) Even my kids are technically mixed; but we spent our time raising them to see themselves as Americans - and even more so, Christian. All this focusing on the outward appearance is worthless!

There are so many things about Huck that need correcting. He needed a good spanking. But I'm sure that the rebelliousness that Twain portrayed through Huck is all Twain against society. Well, I'm guessing it is, though I could be wrong.

Sunny said...

Your reviews are always concise and meaningful, supported by relevant passages or quotes from the book. How do you keep your reviews from becoming a monster summary of a book ( fiction and nonfiction) with tons of quotes? Maybe if you get a chance, can you do a post about your review-writing process? Have a wonderful day. Hope your are recovering well. Until your next review in my in-box. :)

Ruth said...

SUNNY: Aww, thanks so much!

Your questions is an interesting one, and I'd like to pose that to everyone: what is your process or style of book blogging? I know that I like to keep my posts somewhat short, although I may go really long depending on the issue. With this particular book, it was my second review and nothing really changed for me, which is why I linked back to the first read. However, with most first time reads, I try to focus on a few ideas, and that means I must narrow my focus. If it goes too long, people will lose interest.

Joseph said...