Welcome to another installment of the United States of Books! See full details here. Today we will visit Missouri with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.Entertainment Weekly say’s “Twain’s masterpiece about Missouri’s most iconic literary contribution, Huck Finn, will resonate for as long as America’s rivers flow.”
I’m not sure how I never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before now. I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in high school and upon looking on my shelves I discovered I already owned both of them.Finn takes place soon after the events ofSawyer, with both boys wealthy and Finn living with the Widow Davis as his alcoholic father has not been seen in a year. Stifling under the rules, Finn seeks adventure. He rejoices when he is able to sneak past Jim, a slave who keeps watch over the house, to join his friends as they play robbers at night. When his Pap finds out about his windfall, he returns to town seeking the money. He kidnaps Huck and locks him in an isolated cabin. Huck the stages his own death to escape and sets off down the river. He happens upon Jim, who is also running after hearing about plans that he is to be sold. A series of madcap adventures follow, including grifters pretending to be royalty, cross-dressing, family feuds and an elaborate plan to save Jim.
This was a hard book to rate as it is not on the same level as current books. The six distinct dialects used made it not flow as modern literature does, but added a unique aspect to each word said. The writing was humorous and full of heart. Yes, at times, the words used do not match what we consider proper, but for the time it is accurate. The plot was all over the place, but always made its way back to Huck at the center. The pacing was quick and the story never lagged.
A true classic in terms of setting, language and speech patterns, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a unique look at a not so shiny time in our country’s past. That being said, the correlation between Huck running from what he considered slavery, and an actual slave running with him for real freedom was powerful. Seen from a child’s eyes, what was normal became unthinkable, as Huck learned to count on Jim. Mark Twain crafted a nuanced picture of such a specific time frame, I think The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will never not be read by those seeking to understand the past.
Favorite lines – It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed—only a little kind of a low chuckle. We had mighty good weather as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all—that night, nor the next, nor the next.