October 17, 2004

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Ch. 1-15: Thoughts

For a more comprehensive look at the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, quit reading my blog and go here.

First, a question: did anyone read the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, prior to reading this book? I didn't, so please, if you have, feel free to clue me in on the Tom Sawyer book.

TRUTH
Truth, and its results, so far, has been the most prevalent theme in the book. Huck doesn't trust religion, because he prays and nothing happens. He also believes in a childish notion that hell sounds better than trying to do all the numeral good lessons that he is being taught.

The new judge is unaware of the situation that is between Pa and Huck - and places Huck in Pa's company. Later, the judge tries to reform Pa, but that doesn't work: Pa sneaks out, drinks, breaks his arm, and almost freezes to death. The green judge then thinks that the only way to reform Pa would be with a shotgun. However, the judge had trusted Pa enough to act as a father should, that the judge let him have custody of Huck. The judge relied on a truth that fathers generally behave in a certain way. Pa disappointed these notions.


Pa takes Huck captive and locks him in a cabin - so Huck won't escape. Huck fakes his death to escape the treachery that is his father. Though the pair is father and son, the father is abusive. Huck does not trust his father at all to keep him alive or harm-free, so Huck has to escape. This is a situation that lacks trust.

Jim talks about losing his money in a slave bank. Jim leaves to avoid being sold. Jim put trust in the other slave, who had set up a bank, but went broke because of it. Jim's trust led him to "lose his shirt," so to speak. Jim had lived with the same owner for years, overheard her talking about selling him, and then fled. Jim lost trust in his owner because of something he heard.


Huck tricks Jim with rattlesnakes which result in Jim being bitten. However, Huck tries to redeem himself by dressing as a girl and going into town to tell about it.

Jim is a trustworthy character; he is so happy to see Huck after they are split - it was a sincere display in Chapter 15. Huck on the other hand, tries to trick Jim into believing it was all just a dream and has a hard time apologizing for his trickery - Huck has yet to establish himself as a trustworthy character.


SLAVERY
Books on slavery/race issues that Huck Finn made me think of:

Clotel, or the President's Daughter
Beloved
The Bondswoman's Narrative

These books are speak more in-depth about what Jim must be facing. If you are interested in the slavery part of the book, these might be some good, informative reads.

WATER
Also, I am paying attention to the water in the book. Water is the traditional symbol of life. Even before man knew that his corporal body contained sixty percent of the liquid or that his evolutionary origins lay in deep sea amoeba, he was conscious that water was present at birth and essential for survival. The river is KEY to Jim's survival. The presence of water in any scene indicates change and emotional vulnerability. Liquid water symbolizes the potential for growth and transformation, while frozen water signals stasis and stagnation. Immediately, when I read this, I associated the book Beloved, to this book. Water is generally used to symbolize life, but in Beloved Morrison uses it to convey the more complicated idea of change. Beloved is both a catalyst and intimately associated with water. Significant changes in the main characters' lives occur in the presence of water. Contrasting sharply with the water imagery, ice and cold is present during periods of inflexibility and isolation in the interior lives of the main characters. Water flows and can be associated with the future, as opposed to ice, which seals the past in a crystal clear display. When the characters are stubbornly locked in the mental anguish of past events, ice is present in the narrative. When they are able to change and leave and grow, water is available to transport them forward. In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is water that ferries them forward and transports them from their problems.

LAST THOUGHTS
This book made me think of this quote:
“The nation is sick; trouble is in the land, confusion all around...But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: 'We want to be free.'”
- (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The water is liquid and moving....there is hope....

Posted by KatieAikins at October 17, 2004 4:00 PM
Comments

Katie,

I have read "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" when I was in fifth grade. It is a good book. I would recommend reading it. Tom is an adventurous boy who at the end found the robber's treasure worth $6000. It was dealing with him witnessing a murder, and he tries to not get caught. I don't remember all the details, but it is similar to Huck Finn. That's why Huck is inspired by Tom. He wants to go adventures, for example, when he goes upon the wrecked ship, Walter Scott. He wants to live up to his role model.

I liked how you made the point in "TRUTH". I think that Huck wants to seek the truth in his own way. He doesn't want anyone else to tell him. For example, he knows that Jim is a black servant, and he knows how people treat him. Despite this, Huck is friends with Jim and did not betray him.

-Nabila

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 21, 2004 2:43 AM

Nabila,

In chapters 16-31, do you see the bond between Jim and Huck as deepening? It seems as Huck matures, he becomes more human....and much less concerned with the thoughts of others around him.

Thank you for sharing the background information on Tom Sawyer!

As always, Nabila, your comments are insightful.

Katie

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 24, 2004 8:51 PM

Katie,

Yes, I do see the bonding between Huck and Jim deepening; however there are certain times that Huck is confused and he doesn't know what to do. For example, he lets Jim being painted blue by the king and the duke, then he is unsure whether or not to turn in Jim and collect the money, and he feels that he is betraying Miss Watson, because she has done so much for him.

I am glad that you found my comments interesting. I always enjoy reading your blogs and your comments as well. :)

-Nabila

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 25, 2004 5:38 PM

Hey Katie,
I totally like how you put this together!! You showed a great sense of organization and it seems like you really thought alot! haha!! Well I really liked your blog and it helped alot knowing your opinion! Good Job!

Posted by: Gina at December 1, 2004 11:49 AM

After reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, we see a different side of slavery. Though the story wasn't exactly focused on the subject of slavery, we still got some insight to it. The story takes place after the Civil War but society, at least in the south, stills sees that helping a slave enter freedom is a hell-bound act. Also the two con men, the king and the duke, that Huck encounter use a slave a fake handbill to net themselves forty dollars.

But there are people in the south who have grown to care about the slaves. Huck, at first, simply sees Jim as a slave and nothing more. But throughout the journey, Jim shows Huck that he is more than a slave and is actually a good person. In Chapter 9, He shields Huck from seeing a dead man because "it's too gashly". Another person who cares about slaves is Mary Jane. She didn't want to see the family of slaves be seperated. It is interesting to wonder whether or not Mary Jane will use her inherited money to help the family stay together.

Posted by: Jennifer P. at July 24, 2005 7:56 PM

Twain's masterpiece is a satire, and with that noted, we can't take any of this book's main characters, events, or converstaions at face value. Just because a slave is a main character doesn't mean that the political and social commentary in this book is limited to slavery.

Other Characters in this book are satirical examples. Aunt Sally shows that racism can be found in even the nicest of people. The King and Duke show
Twain's disdain for actors because they are frauds. It's too bad people dont write like Twain could. Today's books lack the depth that he wrote with.

Posted by: Devin at July 26, 2005 4:12 PM

Slavery, although still present today, was a major part of life during the early 1880's, the set time for Mark Twain's novel. All throughout Twain's novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," the issue of slavery is always present. Characters like the "Duke" and the "King" see Jim as just a way to gain cash by setting up a fake "Wanted" notice and selling Jim for whiskey money. And before I go any further, I would like to say that slaves are people too, though it didn't occur to most people back then. Slaves were just thought of as property, to be bought, sold, or replaced. Huckleberry Finn was like that in the beginning, too.

However, as they embarked on their journey together, Huck and Jim grew closer and closer as friends. During chapter nine, Jim protects Huck from seeing his father's dead body saying that it was "too gashley" (though it remained unknown to Huck that it was is his father). Huck, then, turns around in chapter sixteen and defends Jim from being sold when he told some ferry boat men that Jim was his father and that he had the smallpox. Huck also helps Jim escape slavery once again at the end of the book when he and Tom Sawyer broke Jim out of the Phelp's small prison shack.

So as slavery goes, Huck learned that slaves are people with families and lives to live. That is why slavery is one of the major themes of Mark Twain's novel.

Posted by: Samantha M. at August 5, 2005 3:05 PM


The book Huckleberry Finn was quite an interesting. Not only did it have controversial topics in it but comical human nature descriptions. At one point in the novel, Huck states how mankind would be ashamed to see how people with common sense were being fooled from left to right. One example is the duke and king tricking many people into believing they were something that they were not. I found it funny how Huck seemed to be the only wise one in many of the situations. He never seemed to be fooled but always seemed to figure out the frauds.
Also in the book, Twain indirectly describes slavery. I really think Twain disliked slavery. Everyone that seemed to encounter Jim was friendly to him. Also the girls, like Mary Jane, had sweet sympathy on keeping their servants families together. That was a very uncommon thing back then.
I would recommend reading a book like this because it mostly touches every aspect of society. It gives great examples of most of society is so brainwashed into thinking that only their way is right instead if seeking the truth in it all. Just because they say they believe in something doesn’t settle it. Anyone can come along and give you their ideas and you fall for them because you’re not grounded in yours. Even though Twain does not directly state a villages or persons belief system (except for the Widows) he lets the people do the talking for themselves which allows us to use our imagination

Posted by: Christine B. at August 6, 2005 8:27 AM

Slavery, although still present today, was a major part of life during the early 1880's, the set time for Mark Twain's novel. All throughout Twain's novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," the issue of slavery is always present. Characters like the "Duke" and the "King" see Jim as just a way to gain cash by setting up a fake "Wanted" notice and selling Jim for whiskey money. And before I go any further, I would like to say that slaves are people too, though it didn't occur to most people back then. Slaves were just thought of as property, to be bought, sold, or replaced. Huckleberry Finn was like that in the beginning, too.
However, as they embarked on their journey together, Huck and Jim grew closer and closer as friends. During chapter nine, Jim protects Huck from seeing his father's dead body saying that it was "too gashley" (though it remained unknown to Huck that it was is his father). Huck, then, turns around in chapter sixteen and defends Jim from being sold when he told some ferry boat men that Jim was his father and that he had the smallpox. Huck also helps Jim escape slavery once again at the end of the book when he and Tom Sawyer broke Jim out of the Phelp's small prison shack.

Posted by: Samantha M at August 7, 2005 1:03 PM

Slavery, although still present today, was a major part of life during the early 1880's, the set time for Mark Twain's novel. All throughout Twain's novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," the issue of slavery is always present. Characters like the "Duke" and the "King" see Jim as just a way to gain cash by setting up a fake "Wanted" notice and selling Jim for whiskey money. And before I go any further, I would like to say that slaves are people too, though it didn't occur to most people back then. Slaves were just thought of as property, to be bought, sold, or replaced. Huckleberry Finn was like that in the beginning, too.

However, as they embarked on their journey together, Huck and Jim grew closer and closer as friends. During chapter nine, Jim protects Huck from seeing his father's dead body saying that it was "too gashley" (though it remained unknown to Huck that it was is his father). Huck, then, turns around in chapter sixteen and defends Jim from being sold when he told some ferry boat men that Jim was his father and that he had the smallpox. Huck also helps Jim escape slavery once again at the end of the book when he and Tom Sawyer broke Jim out of the Phelp's small prison shack.

So as slavery goes, Huck learned that slaves are people with families and lives to live. That is why slavery is one of the major themes of Mark Twain's novel.

Posted by: Samantha M. at August 7, 2005 2:50 PM

Reflection
Huckleberry Finn is a very symbolic novel, it contains many themes or many ideas that the writer Mark Twain wanted to convey. He was describing and reflecting the society at that time. Mark Twain was mocking the American society and the American values in is novel. Huck is the character of change or the truth. I think Mark Twain was so intelligent when he set a child character to be the protagonist of his novel; Twain is attempting to say that all the society's men are children and this child Huck is the only man among them in the corrupted society.
Mark Twain introduced a big conflict in the novel which is between Huck's personality and his society.Huck could apply his own rules on his small land the raft and not the society's rules, and it was a strong challenge towards his society. Twain was describing the society as a society of sheep or a cattle of animals anyone can play in their minds and was describing them as cowards when S.R killed the man in front of many people , the people went to his home to get revenge, but the couldn’t because he changed their views by few strong words and he let them go back like cowards he said "look into my eyes cowards" ,so this shows us how were uneducated and uncivilized people at that time.Moreover,Twain shows in this situation that the people were lost they don’t distinguish between the true side and the bad side .
On the other and, Twain presented two symbols, such as Huck and Tom, Huck was a symbol of realism and, Tom was a symbol of romanticism. Twain introduced romanticism in a picture of fun, such as the dead daughter who painted many picture and wrote many poems for the dead people the funny thing here is that when se died no one done her anything. Moreover, the plans of Tom and Huck to return Jim from his prison, we could see that Tom was just imagining solutions and plans which were unreal. Tom was to be killed just to have adventures, though he knows that Jim is already free without his imaginative plans .Huck was presenting realism, like when the King and the Duke came to them and said that they are a King and a Duke he said aside that they are just liars, neither a King nor a Duke, but he kept this fact to himself without telling Jim know because he wanted Jim to put the hope in them to set him free.
The main idea that Twain wants to convey is the theme of slavery. Twain is explaining that Jim was just a symbol for the slaves all over the States. The American society treated the Afro-Americans people like furniture the white people have the right to sell them to kill the and to do whatever they want , The Black man was just a thing at home or anywhere else ,they treated them like a machine to raise their money.
In Huck's novel Twain was succeeded to convey the message of discrimination at that society by introducing Jim instead of the slaves at that period of time. Twain described Jim in his novel as an ideal human being .Huck said about him "Jim was like my father". Till that moment Huck was thinking himself doing something not good, even till the end he told Tom are you sure that Jim is a good man after rescuing Tom's life Tom replied that yes he is good . The slaves were a very important element at that period of time, specially in raising the economy of American by working under their orders in the plantation of cotton and tobacco, moreover, they were cheap labors this idea was mentioned by Twain in the scene of the farmer, he has many naggers who are working with him in plantation instead of machines .The society was abusing the slaves and putting down their status. Such as when Miss Sally asked Huck about if anyone was injured in the incident he said no no one was injured but a nigger was killed ,she said that "Thank God no one was injured " ,so for her a nigger is not a human being .At Beckey's home everyone in his home has a nigger . I think Twain has put Jim in the trip and the adventures of Huck to convince him, the readers and the society that Jim is a pure human being and not just a thing.
Twain gave us a very clear theme here which is the religion. Twain was mocking the religion aspects of the age such as the difference between borrowing and stealing .Twain's attempts in the novel were skepticism of religion ,Such as at the beginning of the novel when he said about the bad place which is the Hell and he wanted to make everything that makes him be in the Hell .We have a clear evidence for mocking the religion when Miss's Duglass asked Huck to pray and God will do everything for what he is praying for ,he prayed but according to his thinking nothing ad happened Huck said to the widow why your family cant go back after your praying .Moreover, when he had a small discussion wit Jim about the stars if they happened or created. Twain wanted to say that if the religion doesn’t make the people equal the white man beside the black man equals, so it is not a religion or it is not complete religion for the society.
The last theme as I expected or from my view point, is Colonialism .Twain is trying to convince people to go and make adventures and make people free ,even at the end he is trying to express this idea frankly ,when Huck said he is going to have a new adventure at "the Indian Territory" .Twain is teaching the children how to be stronger than men and to have adventures by the name of giving freedom to the oppressed people such as the black people .As I read from the history America that the needed army to be ready because the had a wore with Britain and the civil war so, they needed to prepare new strong people or armies who love and adore new adventures and to make people free. In my opinion that this novel is a revolutionary novel, which is preparing people for the coming revolution.
Twain was very intelligent in putting the end that tells us tat this novel as other novels which are related to this novel .Twain succeeded by using the suspense in order to make readers to be waiting for the next scene or for what will happen in the next chapter.
I think the novel has many ethical lessons and moral lessons Such as all people are equal and don’t judge people for their appearance and more and more.

Posted by: Ibrahim Alejla at April 21, 2006 1:24 PM

PAP NOT PA

Posted by: grace at May 9, 2006 10:20 AM

The thing is with Twain's 'Huck Finn' is that for the time he was writing about, the racial method of thinking is somewhat irrelevant, becuase this is something everybody knew back then, it was common knowledge. So the consistent use of the word "nigger" shouldn't be surprising. An example: During the part where Jim is trapped at the Phelps' and Tom and Huck are trying to help Jim escape 'the right way', Jim agrees to invlove himself in the mess that Huck and Tom have started for him, becuase "he allowed we [Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn] was white folks and knowed better than him; so he was satisfied."

Towards the end of the novel, the differences in race didn't seem to matter to Huck Finn as much as before, at least this started out in what great characteristics he had seen in Jim. It might be a stretch, but this is Huck's thought process towards African-Americans and equality of race: "I knowed he [Jim] was white inside..." and later on, "because I thought he had a good heart in him and was a good man the first time I see him." What these thoughts allow is the possibility that other African-Americans can 'be like Jim' or be intelligent - just as supposedly the "whites" were, if one gave them the chance; which, for back then, would be controversial thought.

Posted by: Aaron JV at July 14, 2006 8:17 PM

I believe that Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Portrays slaves during that time as real individuals and not just servants. For instance, Huck not only helps Jim down the river but by the end of the book he is also willing to steal Jim out of slavery. The book also shows that slaves still cared for their families just as much as anyone else did. Huck seemed so surprised by JIm's grief about leaving his family, which helped Huck see him as a person with deep feelings. I believe that instances such as this allowed Huck to see just how curropt the society he lived in was.

In additon, Twain gives the impression that he doesn't agree with the way society is run through the actions of the Duke and the King. It is very apparent that, back in this time period, slavery was no the only problem, but swindlers proved to be an issue as well. For example, when the Duke and the King lied to an entire communtiy about whom they were as to inherit a large sum of money. Continually throughout the novel I felt like Mark Twain was displaying the problems of society in a unique way.

Posted by: Alicia Y. at August 5, 2006 12:06 PM

I think it's interesting how the book deals so frequently with society's corruption. Huck is faced with the horrible situation that almost every character in this episode of his life is either very blatantly morally corrupt, or is a person who sees no problem with breaking up a family and selling them. One of the few chracters in the book that actually was a good and honest and moral person was Huck's former slave. Twain makes a strong statement about society here.

Ideas such as morality and kindness and God are presented to Huck by society in such a way that when he finally decides to to the wrong thing, the immoral thing, and follow his conscience, he thinks that he is going to go to Hell for it. Ultimately, only when Huck realizes that even as a child, his moral compass is far better oriented that that of almost every single other person he hs seen, does Hick start acting valiantly and bravely.

Posted by: Curran Dwyer at August 6, 2006 6:33 PM

You are all forgetting that The Adventures of Hucleberry Finn is not at all a sequel to Tom Saywer in the sence that the motifs and themes are totally and completely different. Not only are the characters portrayed in a different manner, but the whole themes are more matured.

Posted by: Katelin at May 5, 2007 11:19 AM

For Kaitlin, or anyone else misled thus far:

Actually, Huck Finn IS a sequal - in that it starts at the point where ...Tom... left off. SOME themes are different, but the fact the the characters are portrayed in a different manner has more to do with (1) the simple fact that it's told in first person, and (2) the disjointed manner in which it was written. The themes are not neccesarily more matured, but rather more analized over the years. Still exploring this? This was old before I stumbled onto this blog. If I stumbled onto a high school blog conversation, I apologize for butting in with my opening statement.

Posted by: David at September 14, 2007 7:03 PM