If you have read the Adventures of Tom Sawyer then the characters of
Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and some of the others will be familiar to you.
If you have not read this very entertaining novel by Mr. Mark Twain, then
don’t worry; it will not spoil Huckleberry Finn for you.
As you find out from the opening sentence of this book, Huckleberry Finn,
aged around fourteen is the narrator of our story, which starts off in the fictional town of St. Petersburg. In the previous book, Tom and Huck find some robbers gold in a cave and they end up receiving
$6,000, each which was invested for them by Judge Thatcher from which they receive __BODY__ per day, each, interest.
Huck now lives with the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson, and they
are endeavoring to “Civilize him” which does not help Huck settle into the frustratingly clean house, incorporating good manners as well. Miss Watson is continually reminding Huck that if he does not behave he
will end up in “the bad place”.
Huck quizzes her on this bad place and asks will Tom Sawyer be waiting for
him there and she replies by saying most probably, which makes the thought of going to hell much more attractive.
Another thing, which frustrates Huck, is that he is forbidden to smoke,
mainly because Widow Douglas has not tried it, but she does approve of snuff since she uses it herself.
Miss Watson tries to give Huck spelling lessons without much success.
One night after Miss Watson’s Prayer Session with Huck and the slaves, Huck
goes to bed feeling depressed. He accidentally flicks a spider into a candle and thinks this will be a bad omen.
Just after midnight he hears a noise below his window and a me-yow and he responds with another me-yow. Climbing out of his window and onto the ground he finds Tom Sawyer waiting for him.
There is a lot of detail in the first pages of the book and Twain fires a
lot of information at the reader through the unconventional narration by Huck.
If you have not read Tom Sawyer, then you are enthralled at Twain’s humor
and irony and the colorful character of Huckleberry Finn.
The clever use of dialect in the narration seems off-putting at first, but
the reader will soon get used to this and it only serves to enhance the humor of the tale.
We are introduced to Widow Douglas and Miss Watson and any concerns, which
the reader should have about the adventures of Tom Sawyer, are allayed.
The only other thing you should realize is to take with a pinch of salt some
of the statements made by Twain. There is a brief notice that introduces the book. In it we are told that the reader must not seek a plot or motive which means, of course, that both are present in the novel.
Twain uses irony saying one thing, but meaning the opposite of its literal
definition. He uses this irony humorously by poking fun at the seriousness of adult American society that is relevant today, but Twain’s humor does not have the sole purpose of entertaining the reader, but
also conveying a serious message.
One of the instances of ironic humor appears in this chapter documenting
Huck’s reaction to Widow Douglas’ attempts at civilization. Huck’s views are all completely natural, free of refinements and breeding which mark the Widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson.
In their eyes Huck is rough and uncivilized and it is their duty to bring about a change in their prot'g'. However, these two well-meaning ladies represent everything, which Huck rejects in the society he sees around him.
Miss Watson’s view of heaven is a place where the inhabitants spend their
days singing and playing harps on fluffy white clouds.
Huck is more interested in the other place, as this seems more fun.
Miss Watson’s religion is best demonstrated by her Prayer Meeting with the
slaves, but she sees nothing wrong in owning other people.
The only redeeming quality the sisters have is their concern for Huck.
Huck recognizes the hypocrisy and foolishness of the society represented by
the two sisters. This society stifles freedom and they seem intent on punishing themselves by wearing restrictive clothing and adopting pernickety manners. In a larger sense, through the institution of
slavery, their whole existence is hypocritical and against the Christian ideal.
Huckleberry is not only the narrator, but also the protagonist of the novel
and the book uses first-person narration.
The word “nigger” is first used in Chapter 1 and is present throughout the
whole book. It means all African Americans and especially those held as slaves. It is important to remember that the word is used as part of a corrupt language and racist society where slavery was
acceptable. These facts are fully described in the novel and it is important to remember that the author utterly condemns both slavery and racism.