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Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts 
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Post Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Mark Twain

Last chapter and final thoughts



Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:49 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
I finished this evening - actually very early morning - at 12:30 am, Jan 18th, 2k11.

I enjoyed the story . . . liked it so much, I'm beginning The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - I've downloaded all the audio files from the LibriVox collection.

http://librivox.org/tom-sawyer-by-mark-twain/



Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:44 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Congratulations on finishing. What did you think of the ending, where Tom makes Jim play the role of prisoner?



Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:09 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
The ending was kinda' silly, I thought - but that's the kind of book it is - silly and fun.

Jim would go along with just about anything. He might say he didn't want something, but he'd do it anyway.

They wanted to release Jim, make him truly free then parade him through the streets for the people to cheer him on and be inspired by him.

That didn't seem realistic, but it was a good hearted thought on Twain's part.



Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:50 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
I don't want to comment on each section as it's been laid out, just say something about the book, having finished it. I say "finished it," but I really skipped most of the last 60 pages, where Tom engineers Jim's "escape" from the cabin prison. That part was too painful and tedious to reread. I didn't have any recollection of that section being so long; it's more than 15% of the edition I was reading. As many other readers have judged, I think the foolishness and cruelty of the hijinx here is a major injury to the book. Ernest Hemingway said that all American literature starts with Huckleberry Finn, but he advised readers to consider the book to end when Jim is betrayed by the Duke and King. The rest, he said, was just "cheating."

Why Twain ended the book this way has been debated. He certainly never talked about his decision. He likely was simply tired of having the book unfinished for so many years and just wanted to wrap it up. That he did so by burying the serious themes of the evil to which humans can casually commit themselves, and the need to rebel against the accepted "moral" evil in order to be good, was a price he was willing to pay. Maybe it had to do with acceptance of the book and sales (in any case, it didn't sell that well in his lifetime).

Twain's lack of commitment to his themes, as shown by the ending and by his admonition to readers not to find a moral in it, for me weakens the case somewhat that the continual use of the word "nigger" in the book is to be viewed entirely as Twain exposing the vice of white society. Throwing the word around in the essentially silly context of the ending shows Twain retreating from a social commentary.

I still like the book a lot in many of its parts. It's strongest in the first half and starts to tail off with the Duke and King, even though those rascals are amusing. Huck is still one of the great characters in literature. The book didn't give me as much pleasure I had recalled from before, but that's often what happens when you return to a book many years after last reading it.



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Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:33 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Thank you DWill for all your comments about HF. I have been reading along, the book and the comments and I have enjoyed the conversations. I have just meet King and Duke and I can't see anything good coming from these two characters. From your comments above, I may be right. This is my first time reading it, my only experience with Huck has been from the movie. I'm thinking the movie may have been made by Disney, because the movie certainly hacks up the book. The word nigger has not bothered me except to say that although I feel that Huck in fact loves Jim, there is a barrier between the two of them. Sometimes I also feel that Huck does not want to admit it, but when the word is used, this barrier comes through. Although, Jim and Huck are together on their adventure, it seems that Huck has to stop himself and think, "hey, I'm better than Jim", even though deep down, I don't think Huck believes this is true. Ths is suprising to me when you consider what a SOB Huck pap was. Jim is a better father than pap, but on the other hand, Huck acts like a father to Jim at times.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of HF. I'm glad it was chosen, I truly don't think I would have read it otherwise. It has been a pleasant suprise for me. And your comments as well as those of other participants have made it even more of a pleasure.



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Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Thanks, Suzanne. Twain titled the book The Adventures of Huck Finn, mirroring the title of the Tom Sawyer book, and my guess is that he wavered between two purposes as he wrote it: exploring on the one hand perhaps the most important aspect of American history--slavery and race--and on the other delivering on the "adventures" aspect that he believed his readers expected. At the end, he gets back to "adventures" with a vengeance, but that diminishes both Huck and the serious themes of the book. Wouldn't it have been great if, after what Huck had been through with Jim, he found that he could no longer go along with Tom's fantasies when Tom shows up, and tells him where to go? But Twain can't go all the way in demonstrating that Huck has changed; when Tom comes in, Huck falls into his previous second banana role. Huck can be defended on wanting to free Jim in the first place, a bold move that realistically he might need help with. It's just too bad that Twain felt he needed to yuck up the plot at this point for over 50 pages.

But Twain's instincts in drawing Huck's character are keen. If he made him change too much, it would have seemed forced. After all, Huck is only 13 and occupies the lowest stratum of white society. It's not likely that such a person would become a conscious humanitarian or abolitionist. Although Huck learns a lot about Jim's humanity that surprises him, he still doesn't draw general conclusions. He still doesn't have any confidence that his feelings about Jim are the right ones a person should have. Throughout the book, Huck believes that it is only his innate or learned wickedness that makes him unable to turn over to Jim's owner her rightful property. Huck is surprised when Tom Sawyer says he wants to free Jim, that it lowered Tom's stature in Huck's eyes! At the end we find, of course, that Tom knew all along that Miss Watson had freed Jim, so Tom had been doing nothing "wrong" in setting Jim free, just amusing himself.

I was interested to read in the Afterword that Twain wrote at least two other books featuring Jim, Huck, and Tom. But they were entirely in the adventures vein and didn't have character development. Character development isn't Twain's particular strength as a writer of fiction. He did best in that regard in HF, though.



Last edited by DWill on Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:55 am
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
DWill wrote:
Thanks, Suzanne. Twain titled the book The Adventures of Huck Finn, mirroring the title of the Tom Sawyer book, and my guess is that he wavered between two purposes as he wrote it: exploring on the one hand perhaps the most important aspect of American history--slavery and race--and on the other delivering on the "adventures" aspect that he believed his readers expected. At the end, he gets back to "adventures" with a vengeance, but that diminishes both Huck and the serious themes of the book. Wouldn't it have been great if, after what Huck had been through with Jim, he found that he could no longer go along with Tom's fantasies when Tom shows up, and tells him where to go? But Twain can't go all the way in demonstrating that that Huck has changed; when Tom comes in, Huck falls into his previous second banana role. Huck can be defended on wanting to free Jim in the first place, a bold move that realistically he might need help with. It's just too bad that Twain felt he needed to yuck up the plot at this point for over 50 pages.

But Twain's instincts in drawing Huck's character are keen. If he made him change too much, it would have seemed forced. After all, Huck is only 13 and occupies the lowest stratum of white society. It's not likely that such a person would become a conscious humanitarian or abolitionist. Although Huck learns a lot about Jim's humanity that surprises him, he still doesn't draw general conclusions. He still doesn't have any confidence that his feelings about Jim are the right ones a person should have. Throughout the book, Huck believes that it is only his innate or learned wickedness that makes him unable to turn over to Jim's owner her rightful property. Huck is surprised when Tom Sawyer says he wants to free Jim, that it lowered Tom's stature in Huck's eyes! At the end we find, of course, that Tom knew all along that Miss Watson had freed Jim, so Tom had been doing nothing "wrong" in setting Jim free, just amusing himself.

Nice post. I think the wavering as you put it, surely must have been in Twain as he wrote Huck Finn. I think there is a transference of this same wavering of purpose to the character Huck Finn and it is what makes this book the great book that it is. The adventures are exciting and entertaining, but there are little moments that call out to Huck and the reader to consider the big questions: to wake up to the ills of society or not, to stay on the surface of life or to dive in deep, to be an active participant in society or to just go for the ride . . .And after we've had an expereince that shakes us from our routine ways of thinking can we go back to life as it was?



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Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:40 pm
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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
Boy! Y'all sure do give me a lot of food for thought, and put a new spin on an old classic for me! Thanks!

As for the "n" word, I'm almost 60, and may have a different perspective, but I have always thought that Twain's use was just a reflection of the times he was living in--not a "political" commentary. It was the same language as other literature of the time.


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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
As I finished this book I wondered what 19 century readers thought of it? A strange tale of adventure, sometimes funny sometimes suspenseful, a book of social commentary designed to provoke thought and change? Presumably Twain wrote for his readers of that time, not for us, so our 21 century lens is perhaps a bit distorted.

The last section is indeed tedious and almost superfluous, at least, that's my 21C feeling about it. I think Twain was putting the characters where they 'should' be at the end, based perhaps on moral judgement - pap was dead, Jim was free, Tom and Huck were doing well and looking foward to adventures, the King and Duke were tarred and feathered and a host of other characters were pretty much where they should be, so the book ended with what feels to me like a 'just' ending. They all got what was coming to them, one way or the other. Maybe this was satisfying to a 19C reader? For me, it seems a bit Disneyish. But then us 21C'ers are a cynical lot.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
I don't know what the reaction was like in general. The sales were said not be astounding, and the commercial end would have been important to Twain. Not the usual Twain, I think would have been the judgment, a little like Woody Allen turning to serious films disappointed his fans. The ending seems like an effort to get back to the Mark Twain people expected. It is "just," in a sense, as you say, but the greatest objection to it is that it's so degrading to Jim, so in that way the book loses considerable moral ground. Twain, though, probably wouldn't have cared, and didn't, if we take him seriously in his "notice."

Hemingway said that American literature began with "Huck Finn", and that's a good way to look at the book. Sort of in the way that "Don Quixote" kicks off the modern novel, HF does that for our fiction. It's not a candidate for the greatest American novel, from an artistic standpoint, in my opinion. But it still could be the most important.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
DWill wrote:
It's not a candidate for the greatest American novel, from an artistic standpoint, in my opinion. But it still could be the most important.


A perfect summation. Thank you. I think it's become fashionable to scorn Clemens -- he doesn't deserve that (any more than he deserved his previous deification.)


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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
DWill wrote:
I don't know what the reaction was like in general. The sales were said not be astounding, and the commercial end would have been important to Twain. Not the usual Twain, I think would have been the judgment, a little like Woody Allen turning to serious films disappointed his fans. The ending seems like an effort to get back to the Mark Twain people expected. It is "just," in a sense, as you say, but the greatest objection to it is that it's so degrading to Jim, so in that way the book loses considerable moral ground. Twain, though, probably wouldn't have cared, and didn't, if we take him seriously in his "notice."

Hemingway said that American literature began with "Huck Finn", and that's a good way to look at the book. Sort of in the way that "Don Quixote" kicks off the modern novel, HF does that for our fiction. It's not a candidate for the greatest American novel, from an artistic standpoint, in my opinion. But it still could be the most important.


This is a great summation. I did think about Don Quixote while I as reading HF but for more commonplace reasons than you have cited .. really the structure of the story or the series of stories built around adventures and the dreams and imaginings that drove DQ and his valet and how there were some parallels with Huck and Jim.

Twain's book is terribly degrading to Jim and of course there is no justice in the way he is treated. I did think it was interesting how rapidly and completely his treatment changed when it was discovered that he was a free man, this really underlines the power of 'possessing' a person, a person as a piece of property, beyond racial discrimination.

On this point about Jim being free, and perhaps I missed something because I read this book in fits and starts, but I don't understand why Jim did not simply tell Huck and all the others that he had been freed before all these adventures started? Instead he lived as a runaway slave and was subjected to horrible treatment and lived in constant fear of betrayal and capture.

The other oddity of this story, which I wonder about is it seems completely implausible and unlikely that Huck and Jim would not spend the time to find the mouth of the Ohio R and go north into free country rather than heading into the deep south? Apparently, they understood the geography of the region and they were certainly resourceful so finding the mouth a big river would seem well within their ability and they knew that Jim would be safe (or safer) if they reached the north, so the choice to continue south seemed odd.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
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.



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Post Re: Huckleberry Finn/ Last chapter and final thoughts
I liked the book alot.

I liked it better than the Tom Sawyer book because i like Huck more, he is cooler character to me

although the book was good i thought the ending was a little cheesy with how huck got Jim to play a slave...but kinda funny i guess



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