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Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is an adventure story, a coming of age book, and a satire. Throughout the entire book, Huck tells of his adventures in town, with his pap, and traveling down the river with Jim. Huck wrestles with his conscience on the rights and wrongs of racism and slavery, showing the coming forth of a new generations new way of thinking. And Twain satirizes many aspects of society: religion, romanticism, small towns, ideals of the time, and many others. Huck is wrestling with a moral crisis, whether of not to turn Jim in for running away from Miss Watson.
This internal conflict is also ironic because Huck knows the right thing to do would be to turn Jim in, but he likes him so much that he is forced to go against society and help Jim. Huck and Jim becomes much more than just companions traveling down a river, they become friends. Jim also takes on a fatherly role to Huck, trying to protect him, such as when he prevents Huck from seeing his paps dead body. Huck and Jim also form a bond because both are working towards the same goal: freedom. The raft and the river have very important meanings to both Huck and Jim. To them, this is the only way to escape a society neither fits in to.
They also represent a certain amount of security for the two runaways. Being on the raft in the river, they feel safe, they are in control of their own destiny, not by another person. The shore, to Huck, means civilization, a thing he so desperately tries to escape. Huck knows that on shore, if he is caught, he will not be in control of his life and live as he pleases.
He will have to bathe, dress nice, eat right, go to church and school, and obey adults. To Jim the shore represents captivity in a way differently from Huck. Jim will have to become a slave again and continue being separated from his family. Twain satirizes many aspects of society. The whole idea of blacks being dumb and inferior to whites is being repeatedly pointed out so as to show exactly how people really thought and acted years ago.
Twain makes Jim into a very noble and trustworthy person, showing the contrast from what people thought about slaves and how they actually were. The feud between the Grangerfords and Shepardsons is a satirizing the small towns and farming families of the time. The two families bring their guns to church and their own children do not even know what the feud is about. The running away of opposing son and daughter is a play off of Romeo and Juliet, the feud ending with everyone being killed. Huckleberry Finn was very enjoyable and easy to read. Though highly controversial to some, I believe it is a wonderful portrayal of the times it was set and that it is necessary to show exactly what blacks went through in a time none of us were a part of.
It also goes beyond that to the inner conflicts of a young boy wrestling between society and his own feelings, showing the changes that were beginning to happen in the new generation. Bibliography:
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