Adventure, rebellion, crazy characters, and an important lesson are all things that can be found in Mark Twain’s iconic novel
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
. This well known and widely controversial book should definitely be taught to our youth despite the criticism it has faced.
Literature is a great way to take a look into the societies of our past. In
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain truly captures the atmosphere of the time it is set in. By using the dialect of the time and doing his best not to romanticize the problems that people faced during that time he provides a closer look at a society that many don’t fully understand. Twain portrays Jim as a warm, caring person that wouldn’t hurt a fly but is dehumanized by those around him for being black. At the time this really struck a chord with many people who honestly believed that black people were not truly people. Africanamericans were looked down upon as if they were less of a person than whites. He uses quotes like “I see it warn’t no use wasting wordsyou can’t learn a nigger to argue.” and “I knowed he was white inside...” to show the racism that has been instilled in Huck Finn all his life. When Huck said Jim was
“white inside” it was meant as a compliment but in all reality Twain used it to show that even though Huck was his friend he was still slightly racist as a result of his upbringing. This quote in particular shows how most, if not all, white people thought that black always meant bad and white always meant good. Not only is it a wonderful adventure story, it also provides a look at the language, culture, customs, and horrors of that time period. F. Scott Fitzgerald said
Huckleberry Finn took the first journey back. He was the first to look back at the republic from
the perspective of the west. His eyes were the first eyes that ever looked at us objectively that were not eyes from overseas.”
In addition to teaching students about the past,
Huckleberry Finn has many lessons that can be carried on in the present. While rafting down the Mississippi River Huck learns the importance of friendship and how when he broke away from society it didn’t really matter what color Jim was. Huck treating Jim as a friend instead of as property shows the solidarity between the two and how in Huck’s heart he knew that treating people that way is wrong.
When approached with the opportunity to turn Jim in Huck’s conscience convinces him not to; in this instance Huck realises that what society believes is right isn’t always right. Chapter 31, page 205, Mark Twain writes “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” before Huck tears up a letter he wrote to Miss Watson telling her where Jim is. Huck realizes that by societies standards he was going to hell for what he did but at least his conscience was clear.
Huck Finn has been criticized since it was written. Many people argue that it serves no purpose in high