I recently read Mark Twain’s legendary Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I had read it years ago, and probably at the bidding of an English teacher. This time I read it for the simple pleasure of indulging in colorful characters, childhood adventures, images of the Mississippi, and some of literature’s most outrageous vernacular. You can’t read the lines in Huck Finn without hearing the heavy southourn drawl, the Missouri slave dialect, and the backwoods Southwestern twang. At times I couldn’t help but read aloud and attempt to master one accent or another.
I was also impressed with the new impact each conversation and situation seemed to have. Huck contemplates the social norms for his era, and thinks ahead of his time despite his youth. He questions what makes the mistreatment of one race by another right or wrong. He struggles with the notion that keeping a promise to one person means you sometimes have to break one with someone else. He agonizes over decisions he is told will send him to hell, even though they seem so right, (like protecting his best friend Jim, a runaway slave).
There were times while floating the river when Huck’s mind would wander and he would stumble upon something profound, without knowing why it was so important. Mark Twain was known for speaking his mind through his writing, and I feel that Huck Finn was a version of himself. It was like peeking into the life and views of a young, and yet not so young, Samuel Clemens.
From dodging steam boats on a small raft and hosting a fraudulant pair of vagabonds, to getting caught in the middle of a family feud, Huck and his trusted friend Jim have an entertaining and magical kind of adventure. This book is a classic for good reason, and should be on everyone’s book shelf.