Critic Keith Neilson writes, “And so Huckleberry Finn ends, one of the saddest happy endings in literature. Jim is free, after an awful initiation that nearly gets him lynched. Tom is almost killed, yet learns nothing from the experience. But Huck’s loss seems the greatest of all. After finally letting his heart overcome all of the prejudices and moral inhibitions that society has put into his head, having determined to defy society to ‘go whole hog’ to rescue his friend Jim, he meets Tom Sawyer and immediately crawls back under Tom’s Romantic Wing. Huck’s character and moral nature seem violated…One of the greatest characters in literature has been forced to go backwards and we feel cheated.” For years, critics have argued over the ending of Huckleberry Finn. Critics tear apart the racial content, issues about gender and sexuality, and most interestingly the ongoing controversy over the final chapters. The debate remains regarding whether or not Twain wrote the ending with a purpose, or if he just took an easy way out. For example, the ending comes abruptly. In addition, readers are upset about how Huck disappears and Tom reemerges. On the other hand, others feel that the ending is a masterpiece. Personally, I can see both sides of the debate. On one hand, it seems that Twain created a masterpiece just to throw it away at the end. We see that Huck, who we were rooting for all along, has not changed and will continue to carry out Tom’s whims and fantasies. All the progress he has made with Jim has been destroyed. This is one of the many aspects that make the novel picaresque. On the other hand however, I can see why Twain did what he did. In order to be honest with Huck’s character, Twain could not have allowed Huck to become the hero. Furthermore, in the time period of the Southern 1800′s, if Huck had changed his ways, society would have been shocked. If society hated the book, Twain’s message would...
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