July 13, 2013
Major Works Paper: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is a book that follows the adventures of a young boy named Huckleberry Finn, as he travels down the Mississippi river with his new found companion, Jim. The novel acts as some sort of prequel to Mark Twain’s previous book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The title of the novel is relatively self-explanatory, as it’s following the adventures that Huck (as he is referred to) lives through as he travels down the river. Mark Twain was his pen name. “Mark Twain” was born to the name Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri in 1835. His family moved when he was four, to Hannibal, Mississippi, which was the basis of the towns in his two novels. When he was young, his family was relatively wealthy and owned a few house slaves. This was up until his father died in 1847, when they hit some hardships. Clemens ended up quitting school and worked as an apprentice for a printer, until he finished his apprenticeship in 1851. From there he went on to type and write for his older brother Orion’s newspaper, where he worked until he decided to go work as a printer for bigger companies. He worked as a printer until he decided to quit and go work riverboats on the Mississippi river. He worked his way up to the position of a river boat pilot- and it is said that the river life influenced his life a lot- From giving him the knowledge to write the raft scenes in his books, and to write about the river life in his autobiography- Life on the Mississippi. He gained his pen name from his life as a river boat pilot, from the saying “by the mark, Twain.” Which is a code to say that the water is deep enough for safe passage for the larger boats. He worked as a boat pilot until the Civil War began full force- and the Mississippi river was shut down from traveling and shipping. He joined the confederate army- but wasn’t a devoted soldier. When his division deserted the war, so did he. He made his way out west as a silver miner with his brother Orion, and then finding his way into what he stuck with, journaling. He started out writing articles, stories, and memoirs for newspapers and magazines under his pen name “Mark Twain.” He became well known for his writings, and his first novel (The Innocents Abroad) was an instant best seller. As were his following books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and of course The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when it was published. Clemens rose in popularity, until he was a well-known higher up in the American literary circle. While The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was in progress, he hit some debt issues, and problems in his personal life. His wife was sick, and his first born son had died after only nineteen months of life. This further pushed him to finish Huck Fin, but it took on a note of seriousness. When Huck Finn was published, it was an instant hit. He followed it up with two well-written books (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Pudd’nhead Wilson) but it was said that none of his works after Huck Finn were really noticed, and they weren’t as popular or well known as his first three novels. As he lived through the deaths of his wife and two daughters, he continued to write but his novels took on an edge of depression and “rage at the injustice of life.” But even so, he remained an esteemed novelist and public speaker. He continued to speak publically and write until his death in 1910. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written around the years 1876 to 1883 and had finished the first draft to send to his publisher in 1883. Around these years, the United States government was in a period of reconstruction to build a new sense of government in the defeated south, and force the South to join in on the idea that slavery was wrong. This caused a setting of bitterness, and tension among people. The genre of this book would be adventure fiction.