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Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts 
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
DWill wrote:
Hi, Giselle. As I recall, it was Tom Sawyer who brought the news of Jim's being freed by Miss Watson. Of course, he didn't divulge the news, he first wanted to play out his ridiculous fantasies. The book has strong irony around the slavery issue, with the reader being aware that Huck's valuation of himself as morally bankrupt is the opposite of the truth. Huck thinks badly of Tom when Tom says he wants to help free Jim, because abolitionist-types are evil in Huck's eyes. Huck and Tom miss the Ohio river at Cairo, Ill. in a heavy fog and don't realize they've done it until many miles downstream. I'm not sure why they don't think of another plan instead of heading deeper into slavery territory, but I think Huck might have mentioned what their intention was.


Yes, it was Tom that brought the news that Miss Watson had freed Jim .... but what I don't get is why Jim himself did not make this clear when he first hooked up with Huck? Is it possible that he did not understand that he had been freed? How is that possible? I guess this is my ignorance about how one goes about freeing a slave, I don't have much experience with this!

I like your point about irony around the slavery issue ... I really felt that the characters had things upside down, or inside out from a moral standpoint, but of course they were reflecting the moral beliefs of the time and place, as twisted as these beliefs may seem to us now. What I find difficult to stomach is the hypocrisy of "good Christians" and their degrading and cruel treatment of slaves. This is really sickening.



Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:59 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
what do think about people talking about re-writing the book to take out the word "nigger" because people say the book has it in there too much?



Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:18 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
The last section of the book, involving Tom's elaborate prisoner escape nonsense, was rather annoying. It dragged on and was rather pointless. The "Jim's already free" revelation made it seem more ridiculous, though it was a relief that Jim received his freedom after all the garbage he went through.

My favorite part of the book involved the duke and king: Twain's depiction of those scoundrels was delightful. Also, Huck's attitude towards Jim provided some interesting insights into how white people viewed slavery, such as his unexpected moral conflict about whether it was just to help a slave escape.

Still, the book didn't live up to highly touted status as the greatest work of American literature, at least in my eyes. Maybe that's because I didn't get caught up in the adventure and the dialects became tiresome rather quickly. While I enjoyed reading the novel, it didn't make a deep impression on me.

I still don't understand the fuss about the use of the word "nigger". Huck Finn took place at a time in which human beings were chattel and people frequently said "nigger". We now live in a more civilized time in which neither of those is the case. Why do people get more worked up about a term than about the institution of slavery?



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Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:25 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
I bascially agree with your view of the book. It's an uneven book, probably reflecting Twain's conflict of purpose, with some great stuff in it that sticks with you, but to call it the greatest work of American fiction would be questionable. Hemingway's assessment that it was the starting point for American fiction might be more on target. And he hated the ending, as a lot of people have.

While I'd never agree that editing the word "nigger" out of the book should be done, I can understand reluctance on the part of teachers to use the book. The word is spread so casually all over the book in a way that today seems unnecesary. In a mixed class of blacks and whites, this would be insulting, more than likely, to the black students. The fact that people really did use the word so liberally in those times wouldn't seem like a good enough reason to rub students' nose in the word. I'm only saying that I would have these hesitations if I were a teacher.


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Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:59 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
The ending of Huckleberry Finn may leave you feeling dissatisfied because Twain never takes himself or his writing too seriously, and this book is no exception. The end suggests that Huck has learned absolutely nothing through the entire book, but that’s because he is a kid, and the book is a satire so they both are allowed to be flippant and a little bit silly, especially after such a long, loaded, awesome adventure. As explained by Shmoop, while Huck doesn’t emerge from his journey as a completely moral, perfect individual, he definitely has changed, evolved and grown. For him to have transformed completely would have been overkill, in my opinion.


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Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:10 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Luis Saunders wrote:
The ending of Huckleberry Finn may leave you feeling dissatisfied because Twain never takes himself or his writing too seriously, and this book is no exception. The end suggests that Huck has learned absolutely nothing through the entire book, but that’s because he is a kid, and the book is a satire so they both are allowed to be flippant and a little bit silly, especially after such a long, loaded, awesome adventure. As explained by Shmoop, while Huck doesn’t emerge from his journey as a completely moral, perfect individual, he definitely has changed, evolved and grown. For him to have transformed completely would have been overkill, in my opinion.

I did not expect Huck to be transformed but I'm curious about your statement that he learned nothing because he is a kid. I think he did learn from his adventures, as any normally intelligent child would, although I don't think Twain gives us much measure of this, perhaps because he wasn't focused on outcomes for Huck. Also, don't kids spend most of their time learning so why would we think that Huck did not learn? I think the more likely explanation is that Huck was not a strong enough or forceful enough personality to overcome the influence of Tom Sawyer and some of the others around him. Despite his adventures, Huck is a follower by nature, in my view, but that does not mean he didn't learn. My overall feeling about why Twain included this ending is that it demonstrated human absurdity, a thread throughout the book, to the point of being laughable, which lightened the story but also increased the impact of the story.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Twain had a great deal of difficulty writing the book, taking 7 years to do it, and we don't know the reasons, since Twain didn't say anything about his creative process. What I assume, though, is that as he wrote he simply didn't know what the novel was supposed to be, what his central intent in it was. It was ostensibly a follow-up to the book about Tom Sawyer, a fact made very obvious in the title, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And give us adventures he does, as with the Shepherdsons and the Duke/Dauphin escapades. Yet from the beginning, we can see themes creeping in, which may have surprised even the author, who in general was not a thematic writer. It could have been that choosing the lowly, outcast boy Huck naturally led Twain into the regions of both class and race that have made the book so famous, as if unintentionally Twain tapped into the truth that runs as mighty as the Mississippi just below the surface of American life. Yet Twain was no Harriet Beecher Stowe, no earnest moralizer, and he abhorred being seen as a crusader. He was a commercial writer, very much needing, due to the flamboyance of his lifestyle, to have each book be a commercial success. My feeling about the ending is that it is partially a retraction of the book's moral themes, as Twain plays with and makes light of the problem of slavery in order to get right with his reading public, which expected to be entertained.

As to what Huck learns, we have to infer this. Whatever Twain's reasons for not giving us Huck's ideas about the morality of slavery, his decision was artistically sound. The book would have been diminished if Huck, a boy of only 13 from the lowest strata of white society, had taken a stand against the institution. He never has the thought that it's wrong for a human being to own another, and why would we expect him to? The most powerful current in the book is the irony of Huck's acceptance of damnation for being so wicked as to interfere with another white's property rights.


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Last edited by DWill on Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:37 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Amen to that last paragraph - well said!



Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:29 am
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