AP Lang period 1
18 February, 2012
Huck Finn and Finn Compare and Contrast Essay
Though the novels the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, and Finn, by Jon Clinch, both provide their readers with views of the lives of Huckleberry and Pap Finn and life in the racism-ridden South of the late eighteen hundreds, the novels are almost entirely alien from one another in regard to their narration and the storylines they detail. Huck Finn is the account of the extremely naïve Huckleberry Finn, whose recollection of his adventures lends the reader an unbiased understanding of the South, while Finn is a far more mature and shadowed detailing of the life of Huck’s father, Pap Finn, and his struggles with himself and the society that consistently rejects him. Both novels explore complex themes and symbolisms and each author carefully manipulates the elements of perspective and tone in order to create commentaries on human nature and life in a much divided, hateful time period while still maintaining starkly contrasting perspectives on the South, society, and life itself.
Both Twain and Clinch continuously focus on the theme of dysfunctionality within families and the detrimental effects of severely dysfunctional family relations. In Huck Finn, Pap Finn is largely portrayed as a violently angry drunk with concern solely for money and whiskey (“’I hain’t heard nothing but about you bein’ rich. I heard about it away down the river, too. That’s why I come. You git me that money tomorrow- I want it’”) rather than his own son who, while he cannot stand his father, still subconsciously desires any sign of care and attention from the elder Finn, a desire that is evident through Huck’s rapt attention to each detail of his father’s ragged appearance when he appears at the widow Douglas’ house, while in his version of the same scene, Clinch places emphasis on Finn’s almost complete lack of concern for Huck’s appearance aside from his new clothes, so occupied is he with seizing Huck’s fortune. Of the encounter, Twain writes, “He was almost fifty, and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he was behind vines…There warn’t no color in his face…a fish-belly white…his clothes- just rags…the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes stuck through,” while Clinch simply supplies the reader with, “Huck enters with his candle and his carelessness…despite his city airs, has retained enough of his father’s woodland stealth to freeze at his sudden threatening presence” (Twain 19) (Clinch 34). Huck absorbs nearly every detail of his father’s appearance and movements, while Finn remains so focused on money and whiskey that he hardly spares a thought to Huck’s physical presence, revealing the disconnect between father and son; Clinch also writes, “He is the boy’s father and there may be some useful sentiment to be mined there. Moreover the urge for whiskey has worked its weakness upon him and at this moment he is feeling for the stuff a kind of paternal tenderness that anyone could perceive, even this child,” reiterating the idea that Finn acknowledges the subconscious desire within Huck for his father’s care which Finn constantly denies due to a lack of sympathy for Huck, which is likely wrought from the lack of acceptance and love Finn received from his own father, the Judge. As a child, Finn was left “to do without” the attentions of his parents, attention he was made to sacrifice for the sake of his constantly ailing brother, Will. The disconnect between father and son in Finn runs parallel to Huck and Finn’s lack of any connection as father and son, but while Finn exhibits detachment in regard to his responsibility to Huck just as the Judge displayed detachment toward Finn, Huck proves to be almost exactly opposite his father- he doesn’t allow the absence of paternal affection he experiences to...