Huck Finn is a magnificent main character all the way throughout the story. What creates such a captivating story is the obstacles he overcomes, and how this matures and changes him as a person. Before this novel, Huck was in Tom sawyer, and joined a gang of highwaymen- showing just how rebellious and vicious he could be. He begins this story as only a young teenage boy, while being raised by two women who adopted him, Miss Watson and Widow Douglas, and took him in to care for him. They teach him the importance of manners- something Huck doesn't understand until he floats with Jim down the Mississippi. One of the most creative and quick-minded boys ever, Huck was able to protect Jim from capture by lying spontaneously, or even believably fake his own death so that he could escape the life he was in. As the story progresses with Huck and Jim traveling down the river, external and internal conflicts allow for Huck to view the world in a different way, and to finally develop his morals. Huck sees past skin color and recognizes Jim as the truest friend he's ever had. Huck does whatever he can to protect Jim from capture, and even helps him escape. He would never go back on a promise, thinks brilliantly on the fly, protects his friends, and has the ability to judge when a situation has gone wrong. Huck was the leader out on his adventure, but it was everyone else he encountered along the way allowed Huck to develop himself the way he did.
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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn begins with Huckleberry Finn, a young teenage boy, in his home with Miss Watson and Widow Douglas. He doesn't care for it much there because they teach him rules and manners. His father, which he goes with after reconnecting with him, is the opposite of those women. He is a violent drunk who needs to get his way- a valuable lesson for Huck later in life. To escape this life he fakes and death very believably, and escapes to Jackson island out in the Mississippi River. They he surprisingly finds Miss Watson's slave, Jim. The two very different people work as a team to devise a plan, because Jim wants to escape to freedom and Huck wants a fresh start. Understanding that cooperation and teamwork was the key to success, they create a raft and travel down the river in search of Cairo. During their journey, Huck begins to understand the importance of morals in keeping peace and friendship with someone. This is now important to Huck because he and Jim were very close friends, and after Huck lied to Jim about the fog he hurt Jim's feelings, and lost some trust. Huck definitely took a big step in maturing during this time.
After realizing they had missed Cairo, they stop in a town and meet the Grangerfords- a large family with an old and incredibly violent feud with another family, the Shepherdsons. Huck doesn't understand the feud, and keeps a secret that allows for marriage between families. Huck's inability to break a promise resulted in a terrible shootout between the two families. Some Grangerfords he was living with were killed during the fight, and this was enough to send Huck on his way down the river again with Jim. Along their way again they see two men who are running from a mob begging for help from Huck and Jim. They allow the strange men to get on the raft. They each claim to be royalty- one a Duke and the other a King. Huck realizes they're lying, but sees it easier to just play along. The men go into towns and perform Shakespeare shows. However, they scam people out of their money, and not after long were being run out back to the river, this time with over four-hundred dollars.
They soon come upon a man who tells them about a recently dead man. The royal scammers attempt to take advantage and steal the old man's inheritance by claiming to be family. Huck's morals see that this scam is conniving and horrible, and so hides the six-thousand dollars stolen by the King and Duke in the coffin of the man who died. He leaves a note for Mary-Jane telling her where the money is hidden. Though there was some suspicion, nobody blatantly accused the Duke and King of being imposters until the men they were impersonating arrived. To attempt to prove who the real inherters of the money were, they opened the coffin to identify a tattoo. It was then when everyone saw the money Huck had hid in the coffin. Commotion breaks out, but Huck uses the opportunity to escape to the raft with Jim. They escaped away from it all, but only for a moment before the Duke and King spot them and get back on the raft.
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The group travels for days before they stop in town. Leaving Jim at the raft, the other three go into town. Huck tries escaping and runs back to the raft where there was no sign of Jim. He had been stolen by the King Huck managed to find out. He figures out where Jim was at, and sets out to save him. He pretends to be the family's nephew, who is actually Tom Sawyer. Tom later comes, and after tricking the entire family into believing their lies, the two create and execute a very complicated and overdone Tom Sawyer style plan to break Jim out. Part of Tom's plan involved writing a letter telling about how two men will come to get Jim. One night fifteen men with guns showed up and the house, and Tom and Huck quickly go to warn Jim. The men quickly go and attack Jim's shed, forcing Tom, Huck, and Jim to escape out of the back of the shed. During the escape, Tom is hit by a bullet, and Jim clearly understands that he needs to see a doctor. Huck ends up back with the family and cannot leave until Tom is brought back on a mattress surrounded by a crowd- including a chained Jim. Jim was being abused until the doctor explains Jim's heroism and how he worked tirelessly to nurse Tom.
The Phelps family is eternally grateful for what Jim had done, and treated him exceptionally well thereafter. He was given forty dollars and was so excited with it. Huck speculates that Pap must have taken all that money from back home, to which Jim explains that the dead body they had seen on the floating house the one night was Pap's. Huck decides he wants to leave all of this, and move out west.
Clearly, Huck experience more of an adventure than he had ever bargained for once he planned to escape his old life, but what he gained from this adventure is also far more valuable than he could have wished for. Beyond the face-value action, and the grand adventure, the great underlying story is the maturing of Huck as he starts seeing the world from a new point of view, and how he develops because of the adversities he faced. He understands that manners are an important part of friendship and peace after he hurts Jim's feeling after lying to him. Once the Duke and King began traveling on the raft and almost demanding orders to the other two, Huck followed them and played along even though he knew the men weren't actually royalty. Huck had learned to just stay quiet back when he lived with his drunken father.
Huck experienced numerous internal conflicts throughout the story; he followed his heart to make decisions on moral decisions rather than what his brain had said and what society approved of. His ability to think about what he wanted to do, and outside the law or what is approved of, allowed him to continually lie and keep his mouth quiet about the fact that Jim is a runaway slave. Huck quickly was able to look beyond skin color, and realizes that no man should be separated from his family and treated as poorly as they did to slaves. He got to know Jim better, and during the story we realize that perhaps Jim is a better person than Huck, the "royalty", townspeople, Pap, Widow Douglas, and every other character in the book. Obviously everyone had their flaws, but Twain portrayed Jim as the level-headed naturally intelligent character. We see the difference in Huck, and the love he has for Jim, when he said he would risk going to Hell just to rescue him from the Phelps' farm.
I chose to read Huckleberry Finn as soon as I realized it was option for this assignment. I had read the book previously a couple of years ago, and enjoyed the story enough to want to read it again. I could make connections and understand the book back then, but not until now have I seen much of the underlying story and truly what a masterpiece Mark Twain had written. It is a great captivating story that everyone should read and learn to appreciate.
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