October 24, 2004

Huck Finn 16-31

The most interesting part of this reading was Chapter 17.

The words "hanging fire" were used. After examining a poem called "Hanging Fire," from 1978, I am beginning to wonder if Lordes was motivated by this section of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I have scoured the Internet for the meaning of this phrase, no to avail. I think it has something to do with gun powder - but I am not sure. If anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

These chapters showed great growth in the sometimes stagnant Huck. He makes more mature decisions, about helping Jim, about dealing with the con artists, and even about girls. Huck is starting to rely more on himself, rather than what those around him dictate him to do. This section of the book has piqued my curiosity about the character Huck Finn. He said he would go to hell for Jim. This is a deep bond between the two: a frienship. Huck is also concerned about taking money from the girls. He is maturing. I am curious to see what will happen in the next few chapters.


Does anyone think that maybe Clemmons isn't mocking Dickinson; perhaps he is mocking Louisa May Alcott? Alcott's Little Women is from around this same time period. Her story involved dying children. Maybe he is mocking both of them. I would like someone to shed light on how he mocks Dickinson, because I was under the impression that her poems dealt with hard issues, such as, death; however, it seems ironic to me, that in Little Women the character, Beth, is dying in what seems to be a way that mirrors the death of the fourteen year old in this book.

Since this is a boys' adventure book, would it not make sense to mock a girls' story?

Posted by KatieAikins at October 24, 2004 8:48 PM


I wanted to know what is your opinion of reading this book so far? Which parts did you enjoy reading? In my opinion, I like reading adventure books, so it is a treat for me.


Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 25, 2004 12:44 PM


Thus far, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has not been an adventure for me. The story is something I typically would not pick up and read of my own accord. Though just because I wouldn't do this on my own, doesn't make it bad. I am learning to appreciate another type of story, and isn't that the point in learning: appreciation? I do, however, like the use of the differing dialects because I can almost hear them in my head. I am a very theatrical person and I think I would like to see this book acted out, rather than just reading it. Also, it is hard for me to relate to the story because of the time period it was written and it centers mostly around males. That's probably why I liked the reference to the girls so much, because I can understand things from their point of views: for example, the pictures and the poetry. I am not sure about the battling between families, though it was a nice contrast to the Romeo and Juliet story. Thanks for asking, Nabila.


Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 25, 2004 2:16 PM


Yes, I do agree how the feuding families are acting like "Romeo and Juliet".

It would have been interesting having the entire book acted out. It would have been more clearer and I would have picked up on more symbolism than just in reading the book.

It was interesting, but it was too bad that the Grangerfords had to die during the gunfight. It would have been nice to see Huck living with the Grangerfords and eventually marrying one of their daughters, since Huck has now a interest in girls. But, let's see how the story ends. Hopefully, it will be good.

-Nabila :)

Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 25, 2004 5:34 PM

Katie, I am familiar with the poem by Audra Lorde, it speaks of the angst of coming of age from a 14 year-old perspective. Here is an explanation of the term "hanging fire": When a soldier lit the fuse in a cannon there could be quite a delay until the charge ignited, and this was known as hanging fire. Similarly a flash in the pan related to a failed attempt to fire a flintlock musket, when the flint produced a spark in the priming pan but did not ignite the charge.

Posted by: Linda Fondrk at October 26, 2004 11:43 AM

Katie, the fact that this novel focuses more on boys and adventures, rather than women and relationships, is one reason why it has come to be considereda "children's book" -- even though most children aged 14 or so probably wouldn't get the political jokes (satires on royalty), and the literary jokes (satires on poetry and the hilarious damage done to Shakespeare). Do I recall correctly that you are an education major? If so, there's definitely a paper topic in looking at the role of this novel (and male-oriented adventure texts in general) and the performance of boys in English classes.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 26, 2004 2:41 PM

Nabila - it is just the reverse in Huck Finn; all the families die, and the star crossed lovers live....what twists!

Linda - thank you for the definition! :) It is always good to have someone helping....

And speaking of people helping,

Dr. Jerz - do you think that Huck's fasicination with death maybe Clemmens mocking another children's author of the time period, Lousia May Alcott?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 26, 2004 8:24 PM


Thanks for your complement :) I try to get in depth of the reading and get something out of it and appeals to me. Well, I did think it was kind of ironic how they mentioned "Romeo and Juliet" and then at the end most of the family died. It was interesting how the author tied in Romeo and Juliet into this novel. It was creative and it went along with Huck's adventure. The only thing different is that in this version "Romeo and Juliet" are portrayed as southerns rather than Shakespearean. I found it rather amusing. Thanks for your thought :)


Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 26, 2004 10:36 PM

Katie A.,

I think that Huck has problems being there for Jim emotionally. I believe it is common, especially for adolescent boys to feel that way. They want to be manly and not to express their feelings. Perhaps, that's why Huck didn't say anything when Jim was being treated unfairly. Huck should have done something despite this thought, because if he knew that Jim was being harmed by other people, then Huck should have stepped up and saved him from any potential danger. There is a limit where he wants to protect his manly image, but if someone is being hurt, then it's the time to act.


Posted by: NabilaUddin at October 27, 2004 2:15 PM

Dear Katie,
how is the classification of boys story? is it pointed only to a boy's adventure as the main character? so why it is called as boy story. What's is your opinion?

Posted by: nugi at March 7, 2005 1:31 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.

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 2:54 PM

Could please help me by citing some of the sitires you found in Huckleberry Finn?

Thank you so much

Posted by: Phill at December 29, 2005 6:29 PM