The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn


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Gabi's Review

Mark Twain’s now classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in the US in 1884. It follows the journey of a young boy named Huck Finn as he escapes his abusive father and embarks on a series of adventures along the Mississippi River with a runaway slave named Jim. With the March 2024 release of Percival Everett’s novel James, a retelling of Huck Finn from black slave Jim’s perspective, we have the perfect opportunity to be re-acquainted with the foundational story.

Huck, a young boy living in the pre-Civil War South, fakes his own death to escape his father, and sets out on a raft down the Mississippi River. Along the way, he encounters Jim, a runaway slave who had learned he was about to be sold by his owner, at a great distance from his enslaved wife. Huck and Jim form an unlikely bond as they navigate the dangers and challenges of the river, including encounters with con artists, feuding families, and violent criminals. This entertaining, often highly theatrical narrative is counterpointed by the seriousness of Huck’s  moral development; as he begins to question the morality of slavery and societal norms, he must decide whether to follow his conscience or conform to the racist assumptions of white culture. This moral dilemma at the heart of the novel is used to explore the importance of empathy and compassion in shaping ethical behaviour, while the bond between Huck and Jim highlights the transformative power of friendship in determining one’s own values. Tom Sawyer joins Huck in the resolution of this tale, and ultimately Jim becomes a free man.

The novel is also a satire of the hypocrisy, corruption, and moral decay in the antebellum South. Twain uses humour and irony to expose the absurdities of racism, slavery, and other social injustices, challenging readers to confront uncomfortable truths about the darker aspects of American history and culture. The novel’s critique of racism is even more relevant in the light of recent social movements like Black Lives Matter that highlight and protest against the ongoing legacy of slavery.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a provocative exploration of race, morality, and the quest for freedom in America. I am eagerly anticipating Percival Everett’s novel James, which will offer a radically new perspective on these issues, and simply for the pleasure of reading another book by this immensely talented African American author.