Adventures of Huck Finn

title = Adventures of Huck Finn

American Heritage
Pd 5 & 6

The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel about a
young boy's coming of age in the Missouri of the mid-1800's. The main
character, Huckleberry Finn, spends much time in the novel floating down
the Mississippi River on a raft with a runaway slave named Jim. Before he
does so, however, Huck spends some time in the fictional town of St.
Petersburg where a number of people attempt to influence him.

Before the novel begins, Huck Finn has led a life of absolute
freedom. His drunken and often missing father has never paid much
attention to him; his mother is dead and so, when the novel begins, Huck is
not used to following any rules. The book's opening finds Huck living with
the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Both women are fairly old
and are really somewhat incapable of raising a rebellious boy like Huck
Finn. Nevertheless, they attempt to make Huck into what they believe will
be a better boy. Specifically, they attempt, as Huck says, to "sivilize" him.
This process includes making Huck go to school, teaching him various
religious facts, and making him act in a way that the women find socially
acceptable. Huck, who has never had to follow many rules in his life, finds
the demands the women place upon him constraining and the life with them
lonely. As a result, soon after he first moves in with them, he runs away. He
soon comes back, but, even though he becomes somewhat comfortable
with his new life as the months go by, Huck never really enjoys the life of
manners, religion, and education that the Widow and her sister impose
upon him.

Huck believes he will find some freedom with Tom Sawyer. Tom is a boy of
Huck's age who promises Huck and other boys of the town a life of
adventure. Huck is eager to join Tom Sawyer's Gang because he feels that
doing so will allow him to escape the somewhat boring life he leads with
the Widow Douglas. Unfortunately, such an escape does not occur. Tom
Sawyer promises much?robbing stages, murdering and ransoming
people, kidnaping beautiful women?but none of this comes to pass. Huck
finds out too late that Tom's adventures are imaginary: that raiding a
caravan of "A-rabs" really means terrorizing young children on a Sunday
school picnic, that stolen "joolry" is nothing more than turnips or rocks.
Huck is disappointed that the adventures Tom promises are not real and
so, along with the other members, he resigns from the gang.

Another person who tries to get Huckleberry Finn to change is Pap,
Huck's father. Pap is one of the most astonishing figures in all of American
literature as he is completely antisocial and wishes to undo all of the
civilizing effects that the Widow and Miss Watson have attempted to instill
in Huck. Pap is a mess: he is unshaven; his hair is uncut and hangs like
vines in front of his face; his skin, Huck says, is white like a fish's belly or
like a tree toad's. Pap's savage appearance reflects his feelings as he
demands that Huck quit school, stop reading, and avoid church. Huck is
able to stay away from Pap for a while, but Pap kidnaps Huck three or four
months after Huck starts to live with the Widow and takes him to a lonely
cabin deep in the Missouri woods. Here, Huck enjoys, once again, the
freedom that he had prior to the beginning of the book. He can smoke,
"laze around," swear, and, in general, do what he wants to do. However, as
he did with the Widow and with Tom, Huck begins to become dissatisfied
with this life. Pap is "too handy with the hickory" and Huck soon realizes
that he will have to escape from the cabin if he wishes to remain alive. As a
result of his concern, Huck makes it appear as if he is killed in the cabin
while Pap is away, and leaves to go to a remote island in the Mississippi
River, Jackson's Island.

It is after he leaves his father's cabin that Huck joins yet another
important influence in his life: Miss Watson's slave, Jim. Prior to Huck's
leaving, Jim has been a minor character in the novel?he has been shown
being fooled by Tom Sawyer and telling Huck's fortune. Huck finds Jim on
Jackson's Island because the slave has run away?he has overheard a
conversation that he will soon be sold to New Orleans. Soon after joining