Huck Finn notes

Topics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain Pages: 6 (1948 words) Published: February 11, 2014
Huck Finn notes
Ernest Hemingway said “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Published in 1885, the novel is set in 1835-1845 in the Mississippi River Valley Today, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn stands as a central document – some would say the central document – of American literature and as an acclaimed classic of world literature. Its impact on American writers who came after Twain has been enormous. In his “Introduction,” Justin Kaplan articulates the essential point: “By writing in Huck’s voice and from Huck’s point of view and raising the boy’s first person, semiliterate regional vernacular to an astonishing level of naturalness, descriptive power, and lyricism, Mark Twain not only revolutionized the art of American storytelling but also enlarged its social range.” Mark Twain

It is a beautiful expression of Twain – a mixture of humor and horror, loneliness and love. Optimism – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – “hymn to boyhood” Pessimism – “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” – an increasingly harsh attack upon the injustices of society and the folly of mankind. Two levels

1. An entertaining adventure story
2. A criticism of society and human nature (life)
Sources of Humor:
1. Everything that happens we see through Huck’s eyes – very naïve, rough and unpolished. Huck’s surprised reactions to our common things make us laugh. 2. Huck tells us about it in his own words; speaking ungrammatically, getting some difficult words slightly wrong. Yet his colorful expressions are fresh, original, and hilarious. Horror and Loneliness:

Huck is cruelly disturbingly honest, describing people as they are – unattractive, liars, swindlers, killers Huck is lonely – Pap is brutal and drunk
Widow Douglas and Miss Watson nor teal family
He takes to the river to find love, a search for love
Picaresque type novel: episodic plot (series of self-contained little stories) BUT: Huck is not proper picaresque hero (always lowlife or criminals)
Huck is not hard-hearted or cruel enough (maybe Pap or the King or the Duke) Huck thinks he has found love with the Grangerfords (bloody feud destroys them)
Twain said – Huck Finn is about the conflict between Huck’s sound heart and the depraved conscience [AP Test] 2nd theme: Freedom vs Bondage
For Jim and Huck – whites are no more free than blacks in the novel. Maybe we can’t escape the Tom Sawyers of this world?
Nature versus Society
Nature: symbolized by the river, represented as good
Society: symbolized by people and towns, represented as evil Huckleberry: the flower that grows wild
Be happy, and enjoy the story.
Huck – main character, realist, but nonconformist
Adolescent, naïve, but also good, intelligent, and has native good sense Essentially a realist (knows only what he sees, experiences) Society – evil and depraved
Huck lies and plays roles but it is a game
Others lie all the time and don’t even know it
Huck is an outcast and dishonest but has human kindness and love of truth which are the best characteristics of society Others don’t possess these good qualities
Huck is a boy of experience and character
“We must remember that Emerson claims that character is higher than intellect, and experience counts more than book learning. This distinction can be seen clearly in the moral profiles of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.” Tom Sawyer is a Contrast for Huck

Tom Sawyer – idealist, but good civic leader
Always playing games, while Huck is more serious
Huck looks up to Tom because Tom is more respectable and educated Huck models himself on Tom
Huck must go to the widow and become civilized and respectable to join robbers Tom does not care if he hurts anyone
Huck has conscience
Tom – conformity – plays at being a robber – 2nd hand experience Huck – originality – is the real outcast – 1st hand experience But Tom can get people (especially Huck) to do his things
Huck can always tell the difference between...
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