The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Early Influences on Huck Finn

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Early Influences on Huck 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...
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