The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a renowned novel by Mark Twain, is the story of a young boy, who, in a desperate attempt to escape his abusive and poverty stricken home, escapes and seeks help with the Mississippi River, where he experiences many different trials. The novel was finally published in 1885, being written on spurts of inspiration interrupted by long periods during which it sat on the authors desk. Now it is published in at least twenty-seven languages. Samuel Clemens, the name that lies under the pen name of Mark Twain, was born in Missouri in 1835.
The town where he lived, Hannibal, Missouri, became the model for St. Petersburg, the fictional town of Huckleberry Finn. Missouri was a slave state during this period, and his family owned a few slaves, who worked as domestic servants rather than working on the large agricultural plantations as most slaves in the deep South did. The institution of slavery is prominent in the development of the themes and characters of the novel. Twain received a brief formal education before going to work as an apprentice in a print shop.
He later found work on a steamboat in the Mississippi River where he took his pseudonym, Mark Twain, from the call a steamboat worker would make when the ship reached two fathoms. He eventually went to work as a journalist and then as a humorist. Twain is also known to have written The Gilded Age (1873), The Prince and the Pauper (1882), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and Tom Sawyer (1876). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn outlines the different experiences and developing friendship of the novels two main characters, Huck and Jim.
Huck, a young boy trying to escape from his life, and Jim, a black slave, wanting to escape from being sold to a farmer in the deep South, join together to sail on the Mississippi River to the Ohio River, which would lead to their freedom, but they miss it in the dark. Huck faces a moral dilemma in helping a slave, but never finds a good enough reason to turn him in, and as a result, the two develop a special bond. Written with much dialogue from the southern dialect, the story depicts a southern society from the mid-1800s, which is very gullible, and easily manipulated.
The tale is full of humor in its accounts of the pair of escapees, but it is full of underlying meaning. The whole story was written by Twain with a cynical view, wanting to show the downfalls of man, and subtly criticizing slavery. It is clear that Twain mocks the absurdity of slavery through various comments of people along the river, Hucks father, and even Huck himself. However, through Hucks internal struggle, Twain expresses what he believes to be the foolishness of slavery and the importance of being a leader in a society comprised of ignorant followers.
I enjoyed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because it has so much humor. It was extremely well-written, but it takes some time to adjust to reading so much dialogue that is full of slang. Because it is so well-written, I am sure that Twain got his point across to some, but because it is so subtle, I doubt many understood the underlying meaning, especially if they were as uneducated as they are portrayed. However, I would recommend the book to others, not only because I liked it, but also because it is referenced so often.