The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain is a stunningly crafted adventure story.
This book deals with many themes like friendship and adventure and more serious themes like freedom, racism and slavery. This book was set in times when slavery was still legal and Twain writes a book here which shows both slavery and the systematic racism in society, some of which is still sadly there today. Through Huckleberry and Jim’s friendship we see a gorgeous friendship that bypasses skin colour and the barriers of a racist society. Twain shows us in this book through characters like Miss Watson and Sally Phelps that some people who are white have their heads so much up their asses that they can’t see oppression and injustice in front of them and seem to think nothing bad of slavery or the idea of Jim being took away from his family.
This story is a fantastic story of friendship between Huck and Jim. We see how Huck changes from not really thinking about slavery to feeling passionate about not letting his friend return to that life after they go through so much after setting off on a raft down the Mississippi River. What I really love about their friendship is that this doesn’t come about by Jim being in some way understanding of his friend’s indifference but just simply by Huck seeing Jim as a fellow human being and seeing the smokescreen put up by society to hide their prejudice. In contrast the character of Tom Sawyer seems to be overly conditioned by the society he lives in. Through Tom we see how an impressionable young mind can be poisoned by the structural prejudice present in society. Though there may be hope for him to change his ways in the future here we find him not letting Jim know that he is free just to amuse his own imagination and he seems to like the power he feels entitled to.
My favourite character is Jim though I like Huck too. I found there was a lot of depth to Jim and there was a lot more to his story than the reader would ever know. I also really liked his compassion and the intelligence about how life really was that he possessed. He was clearly a character who had been forced to see more of life, often not good, than Huck and Tom probably ever would.
While Jim goes on a journey to seek literal freedom, Huck also goes on a journey to freedom as he tries to rid himself of the shackles of systematic racism. Both of their journeys are very brave and together they make each other feel stronger to see this all through and achieve freedom and contentedness. Their journeys are very interesting and the interweaving of those journeys is fantastic to read.
There is racist language in this book but there is offensive, prejudiced language in many books. I personally think as a reader and a writer the main thing to look at in regards to such language is what is it’s purpose for being there. What is the author’s meaning for putting it in? And I don’t think there is a problem if the reason is to show the prejudice in society as opposed to do it for spite and cruelty. In this book I believe it is the former reason and I think Twain put it in because it’s a true reflection of what prejudiced and brainwashed people do say and if we sweep under the carpet what is said in a way prejudiced people like that are being let away with it as opposed to being called out for it and brainwashed people are denied a chance to educate themselves. Pretending something doesn’t exist lets prejudiced people like that off the hook. Twain himself was anti-slavery and racism and I don’t any malice is meant. In fact I think Twain is actually showing how wrong slavery and racism are so I think it is done with good intentions. I actually think he was quite brave to write a book like this in the time that he did.
An excellent and important read.
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