LELE Huckleberry Finn
A few landmarks :
1763 end of the Seven-Year war.
1776 Independence. Mason-Dixon line.
1820 Missouri Compromise.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act.
1860-65 Civil War.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Born 1835.
Age 12 typographist.
Age 14 apprentice to Horace Bixby, the most famous steamboat pilot. Hence the penname Mark Twain.
Age 25 he joined the Missouri army for “a campaign that failed”.
Age 30 he became a writer full-time. Then he tried gold-digging.
In 1884 he wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first published in London and the following year in the USA. It was immediately banned from school libraries, until 1984.
His other novels include:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Pudden’Head Wilson, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper…
He is also the author of countless famous sayings:
Never put up till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
It is easy to stop smoking. I do it twenty times a day.
Heroism: the only way to become famous when you have no talent.
The plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
Huck, 12, has an alcoholic, abusive father. He decides to run away.
He leaves his town (Hannibal, Missouri).
He meets Jim, 20, a runaway slave. Widow Douglas.
They build a raft and drift DOWN the Mississippi.
One day, they wash. Hence the ban on the book.
They live many thrilling adventures and end up landing in Arkansas. Huck goes to reconnoiter the place.
Uncle Silas. Huck, thinking he is wanted, pretends he is someone else, and uses a name he is sure to remember: Tom Sawyer.
Thanks to an uncanny coincidence, Uncle Silas is Tom’s uncle, and Tom is expected.
Huck is trapped, Jim is caught, and Tom arrives. But he likes adventure, so he plays along and pretends he is his little brother, Sid.
Huck and Tom free Jim, but Tom gets shot in the calf. He then says the truth:
Huck’s father died the day after he left. Jim had been freed by Widow Douglas in her will.
They cross several States, and come from different social backgrounds. So, they do not speak the same way. The book is written in a patchwork of local dialects.
Tom (a.k.a. Syd) and Huck (alias Tom) want to free Jim. But there are no difficulties whatsoever: Jim is chained by one leg to the bedstead, with a ten feet chain in a six feet large cabin. The key is attached to the door, and there are holes in the planks (and no pane on the window). Nobody is watching him.
Now, this is too easy for Tom, who wants to live an adventure like his heroes (oh! The woe of literature). So, they conjure up imaginary difficulties. Tom is out of reach with reality. Huck has common sense, but no education. People tend to let others do what they know they cannot do themselves.
The authors Twain criticizes the most through these examples are Walter Scott, Alexandre Dumas, Stendhal, and the likes. (In other instances he criticizes the “stuck-up” British-English writers like Austen or Henry James).
Finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a children’s book, contrary to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which is a book for children.
SCHOOL: A PLACE WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE COME TO WATCH OLDER PEOPLE WORK