The novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was authored by the famous Mark Twain and was brought out in 1884. It is normally considered to be one of the Great American Novels and became one of the first of its kinds which opened the door for vernacular American writing, portraying the local flavor of color and regionalism. A remarkable style of writing must be appreciated here. The tale is narrated in the first person by a character named Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, who is the confidant of Tom Sawyer- the storyteller in the two other Twain originals. (Chadwick, 2005)
The book is renowned for its vivid account of people and their surroundings along the Mississippi River. By lampooning a Southern antebellum social order that was traditionally old-fashioned during the time of the release of the novel, the book takes a mocking look at conservative attitudes, predominantly racism, repeatedly. The wandering voyage of Huck and his companion Jim, an absconding slave, along the Mississippi River on top of their raft is perhaps one of the most permanent symbolisms of fleeing and liberty amongst the entire American literary volumes. (Twain, 2001)
Twain’s work symbolizes the hunt for liberty. He hailed from the post-Civil War era when a severe white retort against blacks was being observed in society. Twain took a firm stand against racial bigotry, escalating segregation, lynching, and the habitually presumed conviction that Afro-American blacks were below human standards. He “made it clear that Jim was good, deeply loving, human, and anxious for freedom.” (Leonard, 1992)
All the way through the story, Huck experiences a moral conflict with the traditional ethics present in the social order of which he is a part, and whilst he is incapable of willfully rebutting those principles even in his feelings, he goes with an honest choice rooted in his own judgment of Jim’s camaraderie and human value, a choice in straight disagreement with his societal teachings. The author, in his lecture remarks, suggests, “A sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience,” and further portrays the writing as “…a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision, and conscience suffers defeat.” (Hutchinson, 1993) The novel has also been deemed as a bildungsroman by many literary critics.
The novel continues to go down well with the youthful booklover’s community from the time of its publication and is considered a sequel to the relatively inoffensive The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been put under the scanner constantly by literary critics. The book was disparaged subsequent to its publication on account of its loutish language and acquired an even more controversial status in the 20th century as a consequence of its alleged exercise of racial labels and its recurrent use of the racial insult “nigger”. (Chadwick, 2005)
The entire appraisal of Huck’s moral temperament is as serious as it is humorous; his puzzlement over wrong and right and his uncharacteristic mendacity, perceptible because of his childhood upbringing, provides an extraordinary contribution to the analysis of human temperament. These issues, nevertheless, do not get in the way of the entertaining role of the narrative, which incorporates immense comicality, all the unusual means of exploring life, all the quirky turns of contemplation and expression, which have provided the author with his widespread recognition and made him sui generis. The story is so fascinating, so filled with verve and theatrical force, that the person who reads the novel would surely be drifting along temptingly, and the time lost in laughing would definitely be compensated, as the reader would feel the urge to rush along and discover how things take shape.
Chadwick, Jocelyn; 2005; Huck Finn: Icon or Idol-Yet a Necessary Read; The Mark Twain Annual; 3, 1, 37-40; The Discovery Channel.
Hutchinson, Stuart; 1993; Mark Twain: Critical Assessments; Routledge p. 193.
Leonard, James S.;1992. Satire or Evasion?: Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn. Duke University Press. pp. 224.
Twain, Mark; 2001; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Edition: unabridged, Courier Dover Publications.