It’s been a while since I read a book so captivating that I started to feel sad as the end of the book approached. But that’s what happened with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Huck is an endearing character. For all his simplicity (he can barely read and write) Huck Finn is wise in the ways of the world and has a deep understanding of human psychology. Although Old Mrs. Watson tried her best to school Huck, he remained beyond the reach of her efforts to civilize him.
Huck tells his story directly to the reader. By having Huck tell his story in the first person, Twain helps to create a bond between the reader and the main character of the book. It is this bond that made the story so enjoyable for me and that caused me to feel sad as I reached the end of the book; it was if I was saying goodbye to a dear friend.
For a book first published in England in 1884, the pages of Huck Finn contain words whose wisdom is still relevant today over 125 years after they appeared! Here are two of my favorite quotes:
“It’s the little things that smoothes people’s roads the most.”
“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.”
One of the central points in the book occurs as Huck wrestles with his conscience about helping his slave friend Jim to escape to a free state. He decides to go against everything he has been taught about slavery and help Jim run away. Even though he believes that by helping Jim make it to freedom he is condemning himself to the fires of hell, he chooses to live according to what his conscience tells him. For a poor, young, white boy living in a slave state, his choice represents a transgression against society’s values that could get him lynched. Even so, he chooses to stand by his friend. He seals his fate with these words, “All right then, I’ll go to hell”
Huckleberry Finn is filled with one tall tale after another. Time after time Huck gets into a fix and then lies his way out. Just when you think Huck, and by the end of the book Tom Sawyer, have finally gotten into a mess they won’t be able to get of, Twain pulls a surprise ending out of his hat. If you haven’t read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or if like me, you haven’t read it in a long time, I highly recommend reading the book.