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America through the eyes of Mark Twain

In this great story about the adventures of a small boy the author concerns quite significant social problems typical of American society of that time. He shapes and reflects the main ideas that are typical of Americans maybe even nowadays. 

The world Huck passes through is real and it is American life but the journey itself is full of universals and immoral things. There are also two heroes that the author decided to put into the narration. These are two robbers who are formed from the nation’s scum. They live for themselves and probably regard their life as a matter of chance and opportunity. But they are also a part of the nation and they also reflect the society as it is. This very river is the world’s road of right and fellowship. And it is always up to everybody to decide what to choose. But the author prefers speaking about people who are at the very bottom and probably being an American he must be really good at describing the nation.

The main theme the author focuses on is vices that are typical of that society. People thought only about themselves and the main aim for them was to rob, to do things in such a way that would be good only for them. The thing that disappoints the reader is that it seems there is no light, nothing good can happen and nobody will change things and save them from that constant fight for a better place. But every time has its hero. And Huck seems to be a hero. He is a small boy who already knows what to do and how to behave. He learns everything only by experiencing things and changes his opinion after facing real life. But the main idea is that he "learns” and that he does want to change things for the better.

(by Luck)

During his journeys Huck experiences new things, which develop his personality and drive him toward maturity. Huck is getting acquainted with life of simple people; he absorbs this knowledge through his journeys across small towns on the banks of Mississippi. Together with him we experience new types of people, and thus he acquires new impact from life, which influences his personality. Both negative and positive events contribute to his growth – the scenes with buglers and killers, the development of his relationships with Jim, and feeling of being a friend. These are all factors that help us understand how Huck matures.

Though he is maturing, he can’t reach it completely, he is still just a child. The episode in Circus shows it very well, because he sees only the surface of what’s going on, and he’s not looking into the essence of things. The drunkard seems to him being one of the crowd, he would never believe that this is a part of the performance. This episode just shows Huck’s naivety.

Notwithstanding its depth and thematic diversification, Huck Finn is a book for children. For this very reason the end of the book is happy, and in the author’s point of view a children’s book can’t have any other ending.   

(by 8davids8)

During the novel we begin to understand that Huck is not like an ordinary child. He is a fighter by nature. The school of life has taught him to be strong and free. Huck is well-tutored by Nature. We can see how he has changed significantly during the course of his travels with Jim. Mark Twain shows psychological development of this main character. In the beginning of the novel Huck is a poor, simple, uneducated boy. He debates the value of education. It never seems vital to him. He can’t learn books because it is not necessary for him. However by the conclusion of the novel he is crafty, intelligent, wealthy young man who simply does not care to be a part of a boring middle-class lifestyle. Huck becomes a personality. We can see how Huck finally decides what he believes about slavery and about friendship. While drifting the raft towards Cairo each time Jim mentions how soon he will be free. At the same time Huck feels miserable and guilty. He knows that helping Jim escape is breaking the law but Jim is also his friend. After a great deal of reasoning Huck realizes it will be even worse if he turned Jim into the authorities and Huck decides it would be better to let him escape. After this situation it becomes clear how his relationships with Jim have changed over the course of the journey from companion to respected friend to the only family. Huck is even willing to sacrifice his soul for Jim’s freedom.

(by Tanya)


There are many themes raised in the novel "The adventures of Huckleberry Finn” but now I’d like to focus on some of them, beginning with the theme of growth and rebirth.

It is present throughout the whole story. After each adventure, Huck learns something new and becomes a new person. For example, in chapters 8-15 Huck understands that not all the world is cruel and violent and that Jim is really afraid of losing him. As for Huck’s attitude to Jim, the boy understands that Jim means a lot to him, much more than all the other people. And he doesn’t want to disappoint him, or make sad, or worry.

Another vital theme covered in the story is the theme of race. Jim is a Negro. That’s why his human rights are violated. The book focuses on issues of race, particularly making the point that the institution of slavery is immoral. Mark Twain shows that we can’t judge people by their nationality. "Blacks” is not a synonym to "bad”. Jim is a devoted friend, a hard-working man, and he is suffering from social injustices.

And the last point I want to discuss is the theme of drug and alcohol abuse. And here we should speak about Huck’s father, of course. Could he be a good father if he didn’t have alcohol addiction? Would Huck lead a better life is his father didn’t drink? These questions are open for discussion. But nevertheless it goes without saying that alcohol use in " The adventures of Huck Finn” is portrayed as compulsive and excessive, and it is always a harmful activity. Every time a man touches a drop of alcohol in the novel, needless harm comes to him and/or innocent bystanders. Besides Pap’s drunken abuse of Huck, the king sells Jim back into slavery in order to get cash for a whiskey binge. Even a harmless town alcoholic (Boggs from Chapter 21) gets killed because he directs one of his drunken rants at the wrong guy.

These are just a few of the themes raised in the novel. They sound quite easy to understand, but remain very deep.

(by Asya)

Huckleberry Finn: innocence it the world of ignorance

Huckleberry Finn is a boy with some thoughts and attitudes of an adult. The fact is that knowledge makes people less innocent. We grow up, learn more about real life and lose some of the main values and truths inculcated when we were children. Being mature means being pure.

            So what do we see? Mark Twain created in his work a world of ignorant grown-up people. They all live influenced by stereotypes (Negro Jim), they have a mob instinct (people who threatened Colonel Sherburn), stupidity (practices of the Duke and the Dauphin), etc. Then the author places our little boy Huck with his boyish innocence in the world of adult people.

            Huckleberry had to develop his personality according to the laws of this ignorant society. His views on life are becoming more mature. Sometimes he behaves himself even more seriously than those grown-up men and women around him.

            So why did Twain do this? What is Huck’s duty in the world of adults? Huckleberry Finn is a "litmus paper” of ignorance in the life of grown-up people. The little boy can notice this ignorance in many of its manifestations, because he has been living in this world since he lost what is called "family”. So now due to his developed, grown-up personality Huck he can easily see ignorance. And he judges these mature people by their ignorance, herd instinct and so on and so forth. And he is objective in his judgment, because he still has childish innocence hadn’t been spoiled completely by the knowledge of real world and the adult life.

            And being a child for a while Huck Finn reveals all the things decaying the society he lives in. Mark Twain fights against ignorance, stereotypes, stupidity, crowd instinct, etc. So he chooses Huckleberry Finn as a "weapon” in his fight with these phenomena.

(by Seagull)

     Mark Twain seems to look deep into the society of that time, full of preconceptions and stereotypes, full of sins and misjudgment. He tried to fight it all, tried to make people understand that the things that must control people’s minds are not hatred, acquisitiveness and arrogance but honesty, disinterestedness and love. Twain wants people to be clear-minded and just, but at the same time doesn't want them to be artless and simple. 
The book about the adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not just a book about adventures of a boy, and it’s very far from being childish. It discloses, through nonintrusive narration, important things and values; really teaches us something, both the young and the adult.
Practically the whole book narrates about the adventures of Huck Finn, and his black friend Jim – a runaway slave who belonged to his family. Huck cannot betray Jim for many reasons. Maybe the main one is that he understands that Jim’s life depends on him. He doesn’t want anybody to die, and more than that doesn’t want to be guilty of that. His inner traits of character such as the sense of justice and friendship, his strive for freedom helps him to help Jim.
Finally Jim is free from slavery and nobody chases him. Huck finds out that his father is dead and there is nothing that threatens his freedom and life. They both can come back home without thinking about something bad. The main question here is whether Huck can live a normal life or not. He overcame many hardships and moral shocks. He saw danger, injustice, hatred and death. His father was killed. Even if nothing threatens him, his childhood is lost and it will be hard and even impossible for him to forget everything that happened to him. Huck is free from his father but he’s not free from his yesterdays and memories.
        Huck is developing throughout the book, his character shifts from teenage maximalist to mature logical realism. The people he meets and the hardships he overcomes make him understand different sides of life, and life being very complicated in general. Huck finds out, that many people are ready to kill. Some can do it to gain money; some are just full of hatred and want revenge. He acquires that people are mean and interested and life is in many aspects far from being just and easy going. The exterior forms Huck’s view of life correspondingly, he becomes aware of the things, he actually shouldn’t be aware of at his age. He lives a year in a day, and this influence may be very important for his future life.
      The book studies problems typical of the country of that time – it is the problem of injustice,  slavery and lack of democracy, the problem of social inequality, the problem of education, the problem of drunkenness, the  problem of people being cruel to each other, the problem of the society being split. The book also raises a popular question – misunderstanding between the two generations, which is expressed in terms of Huck’s relationships with his father, the key starting point of Huck’s adventures. 

(by alex_makh)

A boy who learns the world

A small boy is travelling on a board with a runaway Negro Jim. During his travelling, he visits new towns and meets new people. Seems to be a simple story, doesn't it?

As it is always turns out to be in our life, nothing is as simple as it seems to be. A plain plot is just certain cover, curtain that hides cruel face of reality. The book creates in our imagination an image of American towns and American society with its cruelty and severity, its lie and fraud. Here human life is equal to a gold spoon or a horse or anything else one wants to get killing a man. Here the family feud is shown as something natural, the relationships between two families are based on the idea of vengeance that is reduced to ordinary and dishonourable murders where all rules of this so-to-say "fair game” are violated. The duel between two clans is reduced to indecent slaughter. People prefer a stab in back to blood feud. Most people are stupid and those who have brains use them to cheat others. There are no relations between the small towns, even being neighbouring, the citizens of one town have no idea about what is going on in another one. That's why it's a perfect place for any kinds of swindlers and frauds.

From chapter to chapter Huck finds out more and more about the world he lives in. He comes across different people and faces different life-situations that shape his own image of American society. Huck finds out that life is far from being ideal in small towns where a person can be killed in broad daylight and the murderer can be unpunished, where three men can leave a small boy with ill father and ignore his plea for help, where two swindlers can cheat three innocent girl and leave them without any money to live on, where the members of two families can kill each other in cool blood. Robbery that takes place here and there, cheating as the only way to get something, escape as the only chance to get rid of one's troubles, murdering as the best solution to any problem – that's what Huck witnesses during his journey. Huck learns the rules of this cruel world but can't accept them, he is like an observer who witnesses the situation but doesn't take part in it. His travelling is just his own way to learn the world.

(by Rina)

"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”.  (Mark Twain)

Summing up the purposes why "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was written many critics admit that it is not about preaching a moral but about teaching a lesson. The peculiarity of the book is that it uses mainly humor and satire, so valuable even for a careless reader. Mark Twain prefers giving a humorous tint to every episode in "The Adventures”.

We laugh when we read about the two frauds pretending to be a king and a duke though everyone around them (and each of them as well) clearly understands it’s a lie. We can’t stifle a smile imagining the picturesque scene of the village people gathering to beat the performers of The Royal Nonesuch. We are smiling when Tom is lingering about Jim’s escape and wants to make the thing enjoyable. But laugh also forces us to think

"No, it wouldn’t do – there ain’t no necessity for it.”

"For what?” I says.

"Why, to saw Jim’s leg off,” he says.

The boys are discussing the possible ways to make Jim’s escape ‘a right thing’. Twain deliberately wants us to sink into the depth of a children’s game. Tom Sawyer views the world as a space to play, to experience adventures; Huck Finn is more mature – he can’t understand why they have to torture Jim so much. Sometimes we don’t make a border between games and reality either and hurt other people.

"Is a Frenchman a man?”


"Well, den! Dad blame it, why doan’ he talk like a man? You answer me dat!”

Isn’t Jim right? Yes, for sure. Here the author hints not only at the illiteracy and narrow-mindedness of the slave, but at the huge gaps in the society, at constant misunderstanding among people. Twain doesn’t only state the facts, that is, that these gaps exist, but he points out there is no chance to overcome them. No one is eager to understand, each has their truth.

So the author can’t be considered a humorist only; his purpose is not just to make us laugh. Laughter brings thoughts. Thus "Huckleberry Finn” is the story full of lessons, of episodes that force us to realize that we live in a free world but our freedom ends where the freedom of others begins.

(by MissJane)

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