The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
I feel the theme of the novel is one of a yearning for freedom for all men.
Miss Watson was harder on Huck and more judgmental than her sister.
His mother is dead, and his dad is a drunk. He is beaten and mistreated. It causes the reader to feel compassion for Huck, and realize that he acts the way he does because he has never had a good family life. It is understandable why a person like Huck would not want to be part of a family.
The basic difference between Huck and Tom is that Tom doesn’t mind being settled or tied-down to a family. (They are both orphans, other than that, they are opposites.)
The book is full of satire. The Grangerfords and the Sheperdsons were supposed to be a couple of up-standing, noble families. However, they were in a feud that neither side could remember how it began. In chapter twenty-five the king mistakenly says orgies for obsequies. When he realizes his mistake, he explains that orgies is the word they use in England. Even the most educated towns person does not question it. When the king and duke get tarred and feathered, Huck speaks of how cruel the civilized townspeople were to the men. In the beginning of the book, Tom tells Huck that they are going to form a band of robbers. However, Huck must go back to the widow’s so that he can be respectable.
Three yarns Huck spins are as follows. Huck told Jim that Jim must have dreamed the separation of the two in the fog. It showed how much Jim trusted Huck and how bad it hurt Jim’s feelings that Huck would lie to him. He tells the sister with the hair lip, Joanna, that William IV goes to church with Huck. She does not buy it to start with, which shows that the younger people are not as gullible as their elders. It is not until the elder sister tells her that he must be telling the truth that the girl with the hair lip quiets down. He tells the woman that he is a girl so that he get some information. She quickly catches on that he is a boy. This shows that women ten to be more observant than men and cannot be fooled as easily as men.
Huck observes violence in several places in the book. Huck personally observes violence when his father continually beats him after getting him back home. The two men in the sinking steamboat with the other man is a time when Huck observes violence. Grangerford feud is a time that Huck observes violence. When Colonel Sherburn shoots Boggs is a time that Huck observes violence. Huck observes violence when the towns people tar and feather the king and duke.
I did not find any sexual overtones to the book. However, I decided to research it and found that a lot of people think that Huck’s love for Jim is a homosexual love instead of a brotherly love. I do not see it because they based this on Jim calling Huck “honey” or “chile.” Being from the south, it just sounded like normal language to me. Is it possible that his crush on the older sister, Mary Jane, could have something to do with sexual overtones?
Three scenes/speeches that satirized religious distortions. In Chapter 3 Huck tells us, “Sometimes the widow would take me one side and talk about Providence in a way to make a body’s mouth water; but maybe next day Miss Watson would take hold and knock it all down again. I judged I could see that there was two Providences, and a poor chap would stand considerable show with the widow’s Providence, but if Miss Watson’s got him there warn’t no help for him any more.”
We read in Chapter 14, “”Well, but he WAS the wisest man, anyway; because the widow she told me so, her own self.”
“I doan k’yer what de widder say, he WARN’T no wise man nuther. He had some er de dad-fetchedes’ ways I ever see. Does you know ’bout dat chile dat he ‘uz gwyne to chop in two?”
“Yes, the widow told me all about it.”
“WELL, den! Warn’ dat de beatenes’ notion in de worl’? You jes’ take en look at it a minute. Dah’s de stump, dah — dat’s one er de women; heah’s you — dat’s de yuther one; I’s Sollermun; en dish yer dollar bill’s de chile. Bofe un you claims it. What does I do? Does I shin aroun’ mongs’ de neighbors en fine out which un you de bill DO b’long to, en han’ it over to de right one, all safe en soun’, de way dat anybody dat had any gumption would? No; I take en whack de bill in TWO, en give half un it to you, en de yuther half to de yuther woman. Dat’s de way Sollermun was gwyne to do wid de chile. Now I want to ast you: what’s de use er dat half a bill? — can’t buy noth’n wid it. En what use is a half a chile? I wouldn’ give a dern for a million un um.””
Furthermore Chapter 18 states, “Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching — all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.”
According to environmental determinism, the people decended from Greco-Roman ancestary are supposed to be the superior race. Therefore, Huck was raised believing that the white man had the God given right to rule over other races. In chapter thirty-one, Huck decided that since it was Miss Watson’s God given right to own Jim, it was Huck’s responsibility to let Miss Watson have her property back. However, when he decided not to send the letter to Miss Watson, he believed that he would be going to hell.
Huck is an existentialist because he struggles with right and wrong. He knows that he is supposed to support slavery, but he sees problems with supporting slavery. He decided that being a Christian was not right for him because he did not agree with what he thought Christianity was.
Though the language suggests, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a racist novel, this does not seem to be true. Though Jim spoke different, he had a more intellectual view on the world than a lot of the white characters. The story is a satire against slavery. Though Huck is told that slavery is okay, he cannot reconcile that viewpoint. The scene with the separation of the slave family in chapter twenty-seven critiques the cruel act of separating husbands from wives and children from parents, which was common practice during the time the novel was set.
Phelps’ plantation events are be considered a weakness for various reasons. It is hard to believe that Aunt Sally did not know her own nephew. It is also a tiring and boring part of the novel to read. It does not have much substance or meaning, and Tom seems to take over. Also, the fact that Tom knew Jim was free, but did not say anything until after he got himself shot was a pretty cruel notion.
The river symbolizes freedom from the constrictions of society.