Mark Twain (1835-1910) – Mark Twain was a very well read and an imaginative author. He knew a lot about ancient texts and referenced to them in this book. Huck Finn was a boy that ran away down the river with his neighbor’s slave, Jim. The adventures that they encountered were well developed by the lies they told to get by. Huck went by more names than I can remember. Part of the imagination that he has must have been developed in Mark Twain’s previous novel, Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I did not read that but I think it would have helped to give me a better background on who Huck is. There was a very quick character development in this book and I feel like I missed something.
One thing that stood out to me throughout this book is the superstitions that the people believed in. Even the “Christian” people had strong superstitions and believed in spirits and witches. There was a strong superstitious belief among the slaves as well. Part of this comes from the illiteracy and ignorance of the people. The slaves were definitely uneducated, but even the common person was very un-learned. Huck heard stories about historical characters when he went to school. That was only for a very short amount of time and so he mixed them up a lot. There is one part where he talks about Henry VIII and confuses him with the Arabian Prince that is subject to the Thousand and One Nights. Also he accuses Henry VIII of being responsible for he Boston Tea Party. These of course are just mix-ups in a young boys mind.
With the low level of education comes a different set of moral beliefs. This book is set in the time of slavery and it is prevalent. At one point Huck feels guilty for helping to set a slave free. He also becomes confused when Tom Sawyer (who he catches up with late in the book) agrees to help him set Jim free. In the end of the book we find that Jim was already set free in the will of his owner and so Tom really is not infringing on his beliefs. In Huck’s eyes Tom is a good boy and would never do something as horrid as helping a slave get free.
The mindset of people that were slave owners was very different from those that weren’t. This is a good lesson in understanding what brought about the civil war and why the South would fight to keep slaves. They had no moral dilemmas with owning a slave. This book brings about many questions and thoughts and a lot can be said about it. Personally I didn’t care for Mark Twain’s style of writing. The entire book was written in southern-boy-dialect and was difficult to get the hang of. Eventually I was able to make it through and learned a lot from it. It is a classic that everyone should read. Mostly because it will help one understand slave owners and the people of that time period. It makes history a whole lot clearer.