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Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6 
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Post Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Mark Twain

Chapters 1 - 6



Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:13 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I just wanted to ask who is reading the book and is ready to start talking about it. Thanks.



Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:41 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I'm reading along, but I have less to say than I do for the non-fiction books; no promise on intelligent commentary.



Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:51 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I'm getting moving on it slowly now, about half way to chapter 6--do hope to be able to contribute something here...


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Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:11 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Dexter wrote:
I'm reading along, but I have less to say than I do for the non-fiction books; no promise on intelligent commentary.

That's hedging your bet, Dexter! It remains to be seen what kind of discussion the book will spur. Since it's largely an adventure book, maybe that will mean there isn't quite as much to say about it as with other novels, I don't know.

I've read to Chapter 14, and what impresses me most this time around is how good the language is. That might seem strange to say, since English teachers over the years have disapproved of Huck's "grammar." But that's their hang-up; Huck's speech is colorful, metaphorical, rhythmical, economical, and poetic. He knows how to paint a scene and convey a sense of character as well as any other narrator I can think of. He's one of the unique voices in literature. He comes across as part savage, part sensitive soul; as half shrewd and half naive; as a boy who takes action yet remains passive to other circumstances.

I said something earlier about the Tom Sawyer/Miss Watson world that Huck uneasily fits into at the start of the book. Tom and Miss Watson might seem different from one another, but they're really of the same conventional world. What they're concerned about--fantasies based on adventure books with Tom, and proper morals and bearing with Miss Watson--seems unreal to Huck, who has lived a life much closer to the bone and who has a father lurking around who is a very bad and dangerous character. He's truly menacing when he appears in Huck's room. There's no sentimental varnish at all in Huck's feelings about his father--he wants him dead. The book is largely a journey away from the Tom/Miss Watson world to an unsheltered world full of unsavory characters and moral danger.

I'm sure we'll get into the controversy the book has caused with its view of race and especially the word "nigger." Is the book still sometimes banned?

Does anyone know if a movie that is really true to this book has been made, one that isn't Disneyish? It would seem to be ripe for remake as a film.



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Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:15 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
What's with these english teacher types - the book was written at a certain time in history, about certain kinds of people - the writer has to present them exactly the way they would speak. You can't do it any other way.

As for the word 'nigger' being used - well, we can't go back and re-write the books written in that time. Some people used the word and there's no getting away from that.

I remember when Show Boat was put on the stage here in Toronto - there were people that wanted to go in and make changes to it - they didn't like the way the black people were presented.

Well, whaddya' want? If we re-wrote these books and plays, they wouldn't be the same. It's like meeting somebody, becoming lovers, then trying to change everything about them - the person you're in love with doesn't really exist - it's just that you're in love with somebody for who you want them to be.



Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:45 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
WildCityWoman wrote:
What's with these english teacher types - the book was written at a certain time in history, about certain kinds of people - the writer has to present them exactly the way they would speak. You can't do it any other way.

As for the word 'nigger' being used - well, we can't go back and re-write the books written in that time. Some people used the word and there's no getting away from that.

I remember when Show Boat was put on the stage here in Toronto - there were people that wanted to go in and make changes to it - they didn't like the way the black people were presented.

Well, whaddya' want? If we re-wrote these books and plays, they wouldn't be the same. It's like meeting somebody, becoming lovers, then trying to change everything about them - the person you're in love with doesn't really exist - it's just that you're in love with somebody for who you want them to be.

I might have maligned the English teachers of today, who are probably more enlightened about language than the typical "Miss Grundy" English teacher of old. As for the word "nigger," coincidentally over the past couple of days, I've been hearing about a new edition of HF that replaces "nigger" with "slave." The editor said that he's heard from many teachers that they'd love to use the book in classes, but because of either their own misgivings or objections form parents or administration, they don't feel they can. This editor says he's actually received hate mail for what he's done, which is extreme. While not favoring censorship, I can put myself in the place of a teacher of a mixed class of black and white students and understand why she'd be hesitant. "Nigger" has become such a poisoned word for us; reporters are not allowed to use it even in stories about the word. And the word appears not just occasionally but, on average, on nearly every page of the book. My wife said that she didn't want to read HF to our daughter just because of that word.

Replacing it definitely does change the book that Twain wrote, though, so for that reason I think this kind of editing is a bad idea. Take the famous scene where a riverboat accident has occurred and someone asks if anyone was hurt. The response: "No, killed a nigger." That reply indicates a depth of depravity in the morality of white people that wouldn't come through as well with "slave" inserted. Another example would be Pa Finn's fulminating over a free black man and his fancy ways. He wasn't a slave, so then would Pa Finn be calling him a Negro or a black? That would seem totally false.



Last edited by DWill on Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:15 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
That would be difficult; yes, I guess changes have to be made.



Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:58 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I am thoroughly enjoying the story; it has been on my shelf forever and now just reading it. I find it so engaging and heartwarming as well as frightening just 6 chapters in. I found myself getting myself all up in a twist about the talk of people taking the liberty to change words around in a classic novel. I thank you for your perspective DWill, and it does make sense to me on that level. But if we have the license to rewrite people's books because of fear of what may be offensive, where does it stop? The book of course is fiction, but the context of the language, poverty, and condition of slavery certainly is not. I'm actually not sure it is a good idea under any circumstance. Mark Twain is rolling as we speak.



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Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:59 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I'm with you Karenlee. This book represents a certain time in history. I'm not for re-writing history; this is already happening with history texts, surely we don't have to rewrite the classics! If it's too difficult to explain the context to school-age kids then let them wait till they're old enough to understand it, or let's do a better job teaching history! I'm at chapter IX now. Something struck me as sad/funny/ironic (?) not sure exactly what, by the words of Jim that close out chapter XIII :
Quote:
"Yes, en I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I's wuth eight hund'd dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn' want no mo'."
We are all a lot richer than we imagine I suspect. And it's not a matter of hundreds of dollars!


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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Yes, sad and powerful. Overhearing that someone would pay 800.00 for him he feels rich indeed, for he owns himself now and he is worth a lot of money.

I agree that if the context in which something was written can't be grasped then perhaps the reader should wait instead of rewriting an author's original work to fit the reader. Sounds crazy just to say that.
I am looking forward to the rest of the book and hearing your thoughts. I have learned much from the posts already!



Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:14 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Well 800 bucks was a lot of money around the time when this book was being written. It was considered to be a fortune whether one was white or black . . . 1884 - 1885? A hundred dollars would have been a lot of money.

When I was a kid in the 50's and 60's, hearing about a hundred bucks was enough to impress me.

When my father died in 1979, I sat down and looked over the insurance papers with my mother. Figured out she had 17,000 dollars coming. Holy cow! Ma! You're rich!

That would be considered peanuts today.



Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:04 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
I was born and raised here in southern Ontario. In our neighbourhood - the east end of Toronto, an area called The Beaches, we did not use the word 'nigger'. I cannot think of any place or time that it was acceptable to say the word.

We called black people 'negroes'. We did not call them 'black' and they did not refer to themselves as being 'black'.

When I was 13 (around 1957) our family went to Miami, Florida for about 3 weeks. Traveling down through the American states on the train, I saw many negro people. I was absolutely fascinated with them and wanted to know these people.

We'd been at our hotel in Miami - Ocean View - when the manager spoke to my mother. He told her to see to it that her daughter DID NOT socialize with the negro staff. And I wasn't to stand around chatting with the porter/doorman.

Well, I was furious - just didn't see why not. When I tried to socialize with the children of the staff who worked there, they looked at me as if I was crazy.

I made lots of friends - mostly kids from places in the states. I met kids from New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama. They didn't understand why I wanted to talk to the negro kids either.

When we were going home, we'd been on the train about an hour when I went to the washroom. As the unit in the 'white' car was in use, the conductor told me to go ahead and use the one in the car behind - where the negro people were. Standing outside the door waiting, I met a negro girl my own age. She and I struck up conversation - about the same thing 13 year old girls talked about everywhere - boys . . . I got her to come and sit with me. We sat down and looked over comic books together, etc. My parents had no problem with that.

But the conductor came along and said to my father - we don't do that here, sir! The girl will have to go back to her own car.

My father was furious with the conductor - he did not see why I couldn't have the kid sitting with me if I wanted to.

She, of course, had no choice - she had to move or she'd be thrown off the train.

That frightened me - I just couldn't believe people treated other people like that.

It was my first introduction to America and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I was disappointed 'cause I'd been excited to visit the states and wanted to learn as much as I could about the country.

I've been told that there are people in the states who are the same way to this day. Well, I hope I don't meet any of them.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
When I was around 15 or so, we used to play baseball in a field out back of our place. There was a family with a lot of kids around the corner.

One afternoon they had one of their school friends over to play ball with us. His name was Joe Purpaul . . . Joe was as black as telephones. We all called him 'Purple'.

When the other kids went in for supper, I sat out by the garage talking to Joe. I asked him if he wanted to come in and have sandwich at our place. He said 'no', he didn't think my parents would like that.

Later my father asked me about him - he'd been watching us from the kitchen door. He told me then - he said I don't mind you talking with the boy, but you've got to know that 'people will talk about you'.

Dad was just being realistic. He didn't have anything against the negro people, but he knew the world and how some other people would react. He didn't want to see trouble starting.



Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:20 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ chapters 1-6
Thanks for sharing your stories here WCW, amazing to see how short a time ago this was all going on. And yes, I suspect you'd find plenty of unveiled prejudice in the South still. It dies hard. Just striking up a friendship with someone of a different race/creed goes a LONG way to eliminating prejudice. Your parents were wise to see this as valuable.


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"For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."--Jesus


Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:54 pm
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