The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Book Review
By: Cole Harlan
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of the most most popular classic novels in American literature. It is the sequel to Twain's other popular novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It is loved by many and is often taught in today's high school English classes. The book holds many different themes such as racism and slavery, coming of age, and the hypocrisy of a civilized society. The book's main character is Huckleberry, or "Huck", Finn, who is just a simple boy who lives in Missouri along the Mississippi River during the pre-Civil War era when slavery was booming.
At the beginning of the book we meet the young Huck Finn who lives in Missouri with a town widow, Mrs. Douglas, and her sister. His father, who would consider "the town drunk" had left him. Mrs. Douglas wanted to make Huck civilized and sent him to school to receive a proper education. Huck didn't like this one bit but he had learned to tolerate it.
In the previous novel by Twain, Huck and his good friend Tom Sawyer had came into a pretty good chunk of change, so in this book, Huck's drunk father hears about it and returns to town to take the boy into his custody. To settle this, they have a custody hearing and the judge ends up allowing Huck to stay with Mrs. Douglas if he wishes. This greatly upsets his father who ends up kidnapping the boy.
Eager to escape his father, Huck fakes his death and finds a small island in the middle of the Mississippi to hide out on. Here he runs into a slave by the name of Jim. He is also on the run and hiding out on the island. Huck, being the good-hearted kid he is, decides to help Jim runaway to freedom because he too is seeking a life of freedom. Jim is trying to escape slavery and Huck is trying to escape his father and Mrs. Douglas's restrictive lifestyle. So together the two travel up the Mississippi River with each other.
While headed down the Mississippi, Huck and Jim meet two white con-artist who end up causing a lot of problems for Huck and Jim on their journey. They even go as far as to sell Jim into slavery. When this happens Huck decides to try and set Jim free.
It turns out the Jim's owners are actually Huck's friend, Tom Sawyer's, aunt and uncle. This is actually ironic in a way. In his plan to free Jim, Huck pretends to be Tom, and then out of no where, the real Tom shows up to visit his aunt and uncle. He ends up going along with Huck's plan and pretends to be his younger brother Sid. I guess Tom didn't see his aunt and uncle too often since they didn't recognize him.
Huck's plan to give Jim the freedom he longs for turns out to be a failure when Tom ends up getting shot in the leg. After all of this happens Tom reveals that Jim was free along. He had just went along with Huck's plan to have some fun. It turns out that Jim's owner had planned on giving Jim his freedom the whole time.
The book is a very complex book due to the numerous themes found throughout the story. One these themes is human rights. Even though Huck knows that it is the law to turn in runaway slaves, he feels that helping Jim achieve freedom is the right thing to do. Another theme is discrimination. In the novel Huck tries to get rid of the prejudice that he has been raised around since he was born because he knows that Jim his friend. Lastly, education is a major theme of the story. We see how Huck believes that having knowledge of the real world and having certain skills to survive on your own are more important in life than having a formal education.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic loved by many people and is probably one of the most popular novels of all time. It is taught in middle and high school English classes all across the United States because of the many lessons that young people can learn from the story. It is also very easy for many of its readers to relate to in some way. I really enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet, especially young people.