Critical Analysis Of Huckleberry Finn Essay Research

Critical Analysis Of Huckleberry Finn Essay, Research Paper

Critical Analysis of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain describes the

journey of a young boy and a runaway slave, Jim, up the Mississippi

River. One of the most important themes of the book is that society is

cruel. The book’s tone also changes. Sometimes its serious, other

times its funny, even silly. The book is classic because the tone

surprises and intrigues the reader while the themes teach the reader

moral lessons.

While Huck is on his journey he realizes that society is cruel. An

example of this would be when Buck tells Huck, “A man has a quarrel

with another man, and kills him; then that other man’s brother kills

him; then the other brothers on both sides goes for one another… and

by and by everybody’s killed off, and there ain’t no more feud”(Twain

109). Pap, Huck’s father, was very mean to everyone, but especially

Huck. Pap cannot read and does not want his son to be better than

himself. Pap doesn’t like the fact that Widow Douglas is trying to

“civilize” him. Pap comes home every night and physically abuses

Huck. During the day Pap would lock Huck in the cabin until he

returned in order to keep Huck from escaping. Nothing can harm a

child more than neglect and abuse.

The two ladies that take Huck in off the streets are Mrs. Watson

and the Widow Douglas. Mrs. Watson has several slaves, one of

whom was Jim. It gets to the point where she had no more use for

Jim, so she decides to sell him to New Orleans. Her actions are going

to separate and destroy a family. Jim decides that he would rather run

away than be torn from his family. This is another example of society

being cruel. Mrs. Watson doesn’t have any use for Jim anymore so

she decides to sell him like he is a piece of property.

During the journey, Huck and Jim run into the King and the Duke.

The King and the Duke aren’t anything but two “rapscallions” who

claim to be royalty so that they can get special treatment. One day

they come upon a religious camp meeting, and the King and the Duke

make up a story about being reformed pirates. He tells the

congregation that every time he reforms a pirate he says to them,

“Don’t you thank me, don’t you give me no credit; it all belongs to them

dear people in Pokeville camp meeting, natural brothers and

benefactors of the race, and that dear preacher up there, the truest

friend a pirate ever had”(Twain 133). Then he explodes into tears and

the people of the camp meeting do, too. The King uses people’s

feelings in order to gain wealth.

They go through towns and put on such plays as the Royal

Nonesuch, Richard III, and some others. Usually they are booed off

the stage and warned never to return again. The King, Duke, Huck,

and Jim come upon a town where a wealthy man has just passed

away. The King and the Duke see an opportunity to steal people blind

so they take it. They claim to be Peter Wilkes’s English brothers so

that they can acquire his inheritance. While the imposters are still in

town, the real brothers show up, and catch them red-handed. Further

on down the river they stop at another small town where the King sells

Jim to Silas Phelps for forty dollars. The people that Jim are sold to

just happen to be Tom Sawyer’s aunt and uncle. Huck tells them that

he is Tom so that he can stay there to help Jim escape. Mark Twain is

attempting to show that society is cruel in several aspects. Those

being child abuse, prejudice, and slavery.

Tone is also important in this literary work. It changes from

beginning to end in order to surprise and intrigue the reader.

Sometimes the tone is serious, at other times its fun and exciting.

While Huck and Jim are having adventures on the river, that tone is

exciting. While Huck is staying with the Grangerfords, he and Buck

have some adventures of their own. The tone quickly changes when

Buck is fatally shot in the feud. It becomes more serious. An example

is, “I cried a little when I was covering up Buck’s face, for he was

mighty good to me”(Twain 117).

Jim tells Huck about his deaf and dumb daughter after a fun-filled

day on the river. He explains that after his four-year-old daughter had

the scarlet fever, he told her to shut the door and she didn’t. He

knocked her to the ground and she didn’t say a word. She just smiled

at him. Then suddenly the door slammed and she didn’t flinch. Then

Jim went behind her and screamed. After this he realized that his

daughter had lost her hearing and that he was sorry he had hit her.

This is another example of how tone changes.

When Huck meets up with Tom Sawyer towards the end of the

book, the tone becomes silly. They are trying to rescue Jim. Tom

wants to do it the hard way and Huck wants to do it the easy way, but

he never says anything about Tom’s plan, except to himself. Huck

says, “I never said nothing, because I warn’t expecting nothing

different; but I knowed mighty well that whenever he got his plan ready

it wouldn’t have none of them objections to it”(Twain 225). Tom just

wants excitement and he wants everything they do to resemble the

books that he has read. Huck thinks that Tom is educated and knows

best, so he goes along with it.

In conclusion, the timeless themes and the different tones make

this book still very popular today. Mark Twain is trying to confirm that

society is wicked. He uses tone changes to keep the reader interested

and for suspense purposes. In my opinion the novel is a great child’s

book and a great book for older people to fashion their lives after.


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