Book in real life, excludes fantasies and myth from

Book Information:

Title: “The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

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Author: Mark Twain

Date Published:

Literary Period:
From 1865 to 1900, America was in the Realism period, and Mark Twain conveyed
his messages through an accurate and plausible depiction of events to advance
the idea that many of the problems societies face are real and tangible.

Important Terms:

Dauphin – The heir
apparent of France whose identity was unknown following the French Revolution
as he was rumored to have escaped alive

Literary Realism:
Attempts to portray events as they would happen in real life, excludes
fantasies and myth from actually occurring

Ark of Bulrushes:
The makeshift boat that carried Moses to freedom from the Pharaoh’s order to
kill male Hebrew children

Soliloquy: A soliloquy by Shakespeare that explores the implications of death

Quest Archetype: A
character who goes on a journey for a stated purpose, yet thought he obstacles
they may encounter and the final situation they find themselves in finds out
their true purpose was in self-discovery

Bible Archetype:
An archetype that relates to the novel when Huck and Jim find themselves on a
paradise with fruit in abundance and the danger of snakes



Huckleberry Finn –
Huck Finn is a thirteen-year-old boy who narrates the novel through his point
of view. He details how, after the events of the previous novel “The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer,” he was left with the Widow Douglass who taught him Bible
stories and gave him an education. Yet, after being kidnapped by his father,
escapes with Jim down the Mississippi River. Huck is driven by his desire to
escape civilization and the forces that brought him to pap, not to mention his
sense of adventure in choosing to help Jim. Huck fears pap for his abusiveness
and strongly dislikes the idea of going to school everyday and being civilized.
Huck hopes for a friendlier world as seen with his confusion for the Grangerford’s
feud and disdain for the tricks the King and Duke play on Mary Jane.

Jim – Jim is the
black slave of the Miss Watson, and he is the primary runner of the novel as he
escapes from slavery upon hearing of a future deal to sell him. Jim is
portrayed as father who wants to reunite his family and bring them good
fortune. Jim is a strong proponent of the ideas of luck and bad luck, having
warned against snake skins and bragged of his hairy chest. Jim is also
susceptible to ghost and witch stories proven by his initial shock in seeing
Huck for thinking he was a ghost and weary of a witch who misplaced his hat.
Jim is driven by his desire to escape oppression yet scared of the obstacles
that lie along the way such as slave traders, robbers, white men with guns, and

Tom Sawyer – Tom
is the imaginative and adventurous boy who takes authority in every great feat
he and Huck undertake. Tom is always eager to play tricks on others such as on
Jim with the hat and Aunt Sally with the kiss. Not to mention, Tom advocates
following everything by the “regulations” set forth by previous adventure
stories and doing so leads him to be unnecessarily cruel to Jim in forcing him
to befriend a snake, write in blood, and wait longer to be told of his freedom
(Twaint 372). Tom is driven by his longing for entertainment and amusement, not
to mention his insatiable appetite for tricks and pranks. Tom ultimately wishes
to see Jim freed when he was recaptured and insulted by the gunmen, earning him
the title of protagonist.


Pap Finn – Pap is
painted as wicked, racist, and outright abusive to Huck. Pap enters the novel
demanding Huck’s money, threatening him with violence, and slandering those who
care for Huck. Pap also kidnaps Huck and deprives him of education, all while
blasting a successful mulatto and even threatening to kill Huck for he was the
devil. Pap is driven only by his alcoholism, greed, and lust for power, and
seems to have no fears other than against those who would want to take away his
alcohol. Pap also experiences little moral conflict as he lasted only a short
while after promising to never drink alcohol again.

The Duke and King
– The Duke and King are portrayed as unrelenting conmen who play tricks on
people not out of fun, but to extract their money and hospitality. The Duke and
King are constantly labeled as “rapscallions,” primarily for their perpetration
of a scam they call the “Royal Nonesuch” (Twain 243, 244). The Duke and King
also impersonate Harvey and William Wilks in order to capture the estate left
by the Peter Wilks, an action so disgusting to Huck that it “was enough to make
a body ashamed of the human race” (Twain 251). The Duke and King are also the
antagonists with respect to Jim’s freedom as they are the one’s who end up
turning him in for the escaped slave reward. The Duke and King are driven by
their greed and love of money, with no respect for the feelings of others, and
are afraid only of being caught and humiliated, which is what ends up happening
to them.

Characters: Huck and Jim are portrayed as characters whose fates are
intertwined, and that destiny has brought them together. Both are seeking to
escape oppression: Huck from the civilization that deemed his father suitable
to keep him and Jim from the threat of slavery and the idea of being sold down
south. Together, the two characters’ respective oppressors reveal a deep
insight on the peculiar institution – if society is in the wrong for deciding
Huck’s legal guardian, then deciding Jim’s legal owner is a much greater wrong,
especially considering that Huck’s guardian was his father by birth, yet Jim
has no relation to his owner whatsoever, so his captivity is superfluous. Huck
and Jim’s similar paths also draw a comparison between children and slaves, and
while it may be fair to treat a child like a child, treating a slave like a
child is outright paradoxical, considering that a slave assumes the responsibilities
of an adult yet is not treated so.

Foil Characters: Huck
Finn and Tom Sawyer foil each other in their upbringings and worldviews. While
Huck, having been raised without an education by an abusive father, sees life
realistically and views each situation as it is, Tom sees the potential in
every moment to fit the event as it is “in the books” (Twain 14). Tom’s thirst
for entertainment, however, takes a darker turn later in the novel as, despite
Huck’s protestations, Tom insists Jim must escape according to the
“regulations” (Twain 372). As such, Jim must endure Tom’s master plan as Tom
withholds from Jim that Jim is already free. Tom’s commanding authority over
Huck’s submission reveals how the system of slavery has survived so long.
Humans that can project confidence and power overpower those less convincing,
and a cycle of oppression is born out of an inability to refuse the wishes of
higher class. Tom’s higher class comes out of his well-off family and the books
to which he was supplied with as a kid, and in having Huck be so uneducated
shows how civilizations taints and corrupts those led to believe everything must
be done as they are in the books, and true innocence only comes without
exposure to the ideas seed

Important Changes:

Huck – Huck
occasionally found himself questioning whether it was moral to help Jim, and he
frequently expressed how it weighed down on his “conscience” that he was not
turning in a runaway (Twain 139). He even came close to writing Miss Watson a
letter saying that he helped Jim escape, yet Huck undergoes a major change when
he decides to not write the letter and “go to hell instead” (Twain 331). For
Huck’s personal desire to help his friend prevail over societal and religious
pressures to turn him in shows just how empowering one’s convictions are in the
face of persecution, and how one should follow their heart rather than the
heart of conformity that society wants them to follow,

Jim – Since the
beginning of the novel, Jim has been portrayed as timid: he ran from Miss
Watson, wanted to immediately leave the robbers on the boat, and he hid from
the Grangerfords’ initial appearance. Yet, when Tom was wounded, Jim stayed
behind to give him help and braved the possible consequences, so much that he
was “resking his freedom to do it” (Twain 439). Jim’s bravery in helping Tom by
losing his freedom shows how he paid a hefty price yet stuck to his convictions
of friendship and morals to help others. Therefore, Twain illustrates how an
oppressed race can find solace in standing up for their personal values.


Conflict: The
primary conflict in Huck Finn is Man vs Society as Huck finds himself clashing
with the forces of societal pressures to turn Jim in, concepts of human
ownership with Huck and Pap, and the ideals of civilization with Tom’s need to
follow life as the do it in the books. Jim also experiences a conflict with
society as the system he serves under seeks to return him to an unfounded cycle
of abuse and oppression. On one side is Jim, who, under no choice of his own,
was born Black. On the other side is the system of slavery and racism, where
assumptions are made about individuals on the pretense of their birth, despite
everyone being on equal terms as a human when they are born.

Climax: The Climax
of the novel occurs when Huck sets out to help Jim after he was turned in to
the Phelps’s farm. Before the novel had been building up Huck and Jim’s
journery down the Mississippi river, yet when Jim is captured and Huck decides
to rescue him the novel moves toward a focus on freeing Jim from the farm. When
Huck decides to forego the letter Miss Watson, he makes a major moral choice
that leads the rest of the novel to follow its repercussions.

Resolution: As the
novel nears its end, Huck and Tom’s elaborate plan fails as Tom is shot in the
leg which leads Jim to stay behind and help him, ultimately leading to his
recapture by a doctor. When Tom wakes up, he details the whole story to Aunt
Sally, and after finding out that Jim was recaptured, details how Jim has
actually been free all along. The novel ends with Aunt Polly identifying Huck
and Tom’s true selves and Jim being praised for his service and let off with

Insight into Human
Condition: For the novel to have been based on Jim’s escape when Jim was free
all along shows how former slaves in postwar America, though free, do not yet
feel free from the insults, humiliation, and violence of their former masters.
The gun-owning men at the cottage treat Jim cruelly, and since Jim is free and
actually a hero for helping Tom, Twain illustrates how the Blacks of America
have yet to receive retribution for crimes against them and are in a cycle of oppression
that prevents them from achieving recognition for their accomplishments.


Time Period: The
book takes place in antebellum America sometime during the 1830s to 1840s, and
sentiments such as temperance and abolitionist movements add to the
verisimilitude of the novel. Had the book taken place before its current time,
slavery and antislavery tensions would not have been high enough to warrant
Huck’s assistance of Jim, and Jim’s escape would have been easier with less
strict fugitive laws. Had the novel taken place some time after the civil war,
much of the central conflicts to society would remain, yet Jim would not be
escaping from slavery as much as general prejudice and discrimination.


St. Petersburg –
Huck’s original home with the Widow at the beginning of the novel, set in
Missouri, a slave owning state.

Jackson Island –
The paradise-like stretch of land on the Mississippi river, served as the
meeting place for Huck and Jim.

Cairo – Huck and
Jim were originally headed for this Illinois city, it would have served as the
port that could provide a steamboat to take them up north, but they missed it
in the fog and a steamboat hit them.

Parkville – The
Phelps farm was located here, and this is where Jim was brought to following
the Duke and King turning him in. It is also the location of Aunt Sally, the
person who Huck went to find Jim.


Tone(s): Twain
writes the novel in a morally didactic tone, taking moments where he expresses
his inner thoughts on each subject through the medium of Huck. Twain’s
conclusion of the novel with the continued perpetration of slaves as objects
leaves a hint of pessimism for the future of Blacks in America if his moral
teachings are ignore as the teachings of those before him were.

Diction: The diction
is characteristic of the true use of words a Missourian would have used at the
time of writing, and each word is chosen carefully to reflect the dialect of
the time, such that Jim, being a slave, uses simpler language without a diverse
vocabulary. Tom, having been educated and civilized, invokes abstract concepts
he does not even understand such as “ransomed” (Twain 13). Huck is between Tom
and Jim, whereas his diction isn’t as simple as Jim’s, it is less commanding
than Tom’s, revealing the importance of a proper childhood in making a person
complete. The diction for the novel as a whole is primarily colloquial as the
narrator tries to form a personal relationship with the reader, often with
direct addresses to his audience.

Point of View: The
novel takes place through the voice of Huck Finn, a choice that often allows
Twain to make personal commentaries on the ideas conveyed in the novel. Also,
in having the novel take place through a first-person point of view in such a
relatable character as Huck, Twain further consolidates the connection he forms
with his readers, and the moral lessons explored in the novel then carry deeper
significance for the reader. If Huck can see the evil and shame in the actions
of others, then the readers should too if they find themselves relating to

Major Themes:

The theme of
absurdity comes into play when Tom reveals that Jim was free all along, such
that the novel was based largely on a lack of communication and confusion of
ideas. Also, much of the actions of society toward Huck are hypocritical in
itself, where, though the judge preaches about temperance and morality, Huck is
still handed over to his alcoholic and abusive father.

The theme of
standing up for one’s own convictions is presented frequently throughout the
novel where a character often finds solace in standing up for their virtues.
When Huck was split over sending Miss Watson the letter and going to hell, he
stood up for his beliefs in friendship and later found value in his friendship
with Jim. When Huck stood by while the Duke and King took advantage of Mary
Jane, he felt “ashamed of the human race,” but when he confessed to Mary Jane
and ditched the Duke and King, he felt ecstatic (Twain 251).

The theme of the
evil of greed is spread throughout the novel with each example of a person
corrupted by a sole desire for riches and disregard for others. First and
foremost is Pap Finn who values his son’s $6,000 more than his son, and it’s
this lust for money that drives him to kidnap and nearly kill his son. Twain
further demonizes greed when he has the Duke and King be tarred and feathered for
the perpetration of the money grabbing Royal Nonesuch, and as such Twain warns against
stooping to corruption of wealth.

Important Quotes: