Huck Finn

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

Huck Finn's Odyssey Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, wrote a revolutionary novel by the name of Huckleberry Finn. Twain originally called his new novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade) because Huck was friends with Tom from his former novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain's decision to change characters proved to be a good one helped lead to the novels success. The novel is written to contain all the characteristics of its time in that it is during the civil war and reconstruction era. It accurately depicts the language and romantic writing styles of the time period. Throughout the book, Huck Finn has many small encounters that blend together to build the plot. Each obstacle Huck must overcome plays a role in his maturity and moral development.

The beginning of the novel gives the reader a transition from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by providing some background of the plot in the former mentioned novel in which Huck comes across a large sum of money.

Huck is living with the Widow Douglas, who is attempting to educate and civilize him. Huck's father, who is a drunk and has been out of the picture for some time, shows up just as Huck has worried about and convinces a judge to grant custody rights to his son. The reason for this is to try and get the money that belongs to Huck. When the Widow Douglas tells the father to stay away, he kidnaps his son. At first Huck likes the freedom of living with his father, but it comes at the price of abuse. Huck, who has recently left a group started by Tom and in hopes of getting away from his father, fakes his death and sails down the Mississippi. Not long after the start of his odyssey Huck runs into Jim, Miss Watson's slave, who joins him in his journey down the Mississippi. While hiding out on Jackson Island Huck gets word that there are men looking for them, so they continue down the river and start their long journey.

The river is peaceful to the two runaways at first, but only briefly, as this changes thanks to the dangerous experiences they survive along the way. The first thing to disrupt their relaxed journey is a wrecked steamboat they encounter. Although Jim wants to just pass by, Huck convinces him to go on board for supplies. They witness a man tied down and two others discussing his fate. The two leave quickly, and tell the citizens in a nearby town its Huck's family in hopes that they'll get their before the boat sinks, but it's too late. Next they come across two families who are involved in an ongoing feud. Though neither side even remembers what started the fight it ends in bloodshed and the death of many people, including Huck's new friend.

Not long after leaving the Grangerfords, Huck and Jim come across two men who they take on board. The men reveal themselves to be a Duke and a King. It is obvious they are far from loyalty and it is soon revealed when they stop in the small town of Pokeville and con the people out of $87 and a jug of whiskey. The next scam they perform is setting up a fake play and getting all the men in town to attend before running off with their money. The scams are minor until this point, but soon become worse. In another town, they get word of a man who recently died and left his inheritance to his two brothers Harvey and William Wilk. They fool the whole town until Huck reveals their secret to one of the daughters and the real brothers show up. At the beginning of the journey, Huck wouldn't have given into his conscious but this shows how he is maturing as he encounters different things.

The Duke and the King end up turning Jim in, but Huck and Jim get them back by telling the town they are frauds before they pull the theatre scam on them. In order to get Jim back Huck pretends to be Tom Sawyer after finding out Aunt Polly is Tom's aunt. Huck intercepts Tom before he gets there and explains the situation to him. Tom, now pretending to be his brother, takes control and thinks up the most romantic scheme to free Jim. Though Huck suggests two easy solutions, Tom goes with his own plans and as a result is shot in the leg. Jim has the opportunity to escape but stays with the boys to ensure Tom is ok. When the town's people start talk of what to do with Jim, Tom reveals the truth: that Jim is no longer a slave and was freed in the will of his old owner who passed away. Huck asks Tom why he went through with all this when he knew Jim was free, and Tom answered by saying they would have had great adventures and would have come back heroes.

Huck's odyssey teaches him many great lessons in morality, yet his ignorance continues until the very end with his inability to understand what he has experienced. His misconception is shown even as early as the second chapter when he and the rest of Tom Sawyers gang fail to define the word ransom correctly. This continues until the very end, even though he has learned a great deal. Twain's incorporation of his own childhood experiences plays a large part in the writing of his novel, which even today is read in classrooms and is continued to be referenced in hundreds of scholarly articles.