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Summary: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Realism Throughout the Novel

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 Ornery, clever, loyal. These are just a few words to describe the young, uneducated boy who is Huckleberry Finn. As the main character in the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, free spirited and brave Huck navigates his life in the racially charged state of Missouri. Just like the state, this novel is seen as racially prejudiced. It is perceived as a controversial novel due to its depiction of and slant towards race and racism. Readers have to decipher if Huck Finn is a full blown racist or if he is an impressionable youth trying to figure out how he views this great big world. Another reason this work is disliked is the peculiar dialect. The dialect introduced is difficult to read and understand because of its impropriety and lack of grammatical attentiveness. The n-word is used over two hundred times throughout the novel and raises suspicions to whether or not it is appropriate for the youth of today to be reading. Overall, the book appears to present archaic ideas that are no longer relevant to the twenty-first century.

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Although some may agree with the previous statements made, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn continues to be called a classic and appears in nearly every high school’s english curriculum. There must be at least one reason why this book remains meaningful and pertinent to our current society. Twain wrote with the purpose and intention of conveying real emotions, settings and events. The novel transcends time. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is important to read in the twenty-first century because it is able to define and demonstrate healthy racial relationships and emphasize realism through the dialect.

While some may see Adventures of Huckleberry Finn focusing on race, there is also the lack thereof. Huck and Jim demonstrate this through their relationship. Running into one another on the island, they slowly realized that they were more than just their skin color. Jim is viewed by society as more animal than human due to his skin color. Likewise, Huck is seen as an oddity because of his drunk father and lack of education and a home. Huck expresses his love of freedom from societies hold on them saying, “so, in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us” . The two unlikely friends have overcome the norm obstacles society has thrown at them. Huck becomes the first white man to be kind to Jim. Jim becomes the only black man that Huck is loyal to. They see their similarities in their isolation from their community and treat one another with the dignity they deserve. The line of race and identity become ill-defined when they are together.

Although unconventional, their relationship removed white/black and was replaced with father/son. It was an overall healthy relationship which was new for both characters. Healthy relationships are something all humans strive for. They are a basic human need, deeply desired and we see this through Huck and Jim embracing one another. Jim becomes a friend and even a father figure for Huck. Huck shows us how thoughtful Jim is saying, “I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn. He often done that”. Jim is looking out for Huck just as a friend or even a Dad would. One whose father figure is missing or has no father at all, knows how Huck must feel. Single mothers are becoming more prominent in society today and children are looking for a father figure. This novel can give those children hope that they can find one somewhere, someday. Huck Finn and Jim take the typical racial identities they have been given and prove there is more to them than the mask society has placed upon them.

Masking what is real and true is the exact opposite of what Twain was trying to accomplish. Twain believed in realism when writing. The dialect of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reflects realism in the best way. African Americans in the 1800’s were uneducated slaves. Their basic vernacular was extremely improper and lacked basic grammatical attentiveness. Twain uses Jim as a prime example by having him say, “‘Well, anyways, I doan’ hanker for no mo’ un um, Huck. Dese is all I kin stan’”. This is an extremely difficult sentence to read. The African American population were not uneducated by choice, but rather by force. They did not have the same rights and freedoms people do today. Huck’s narration displays the time period of the novel as well as Huck’s social class. Huck tells the reader in the first sentence of the novel that “you don’t know much about me, without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, but that ain’t no matter”. Twain used “common talk” to show the normalcy of characters. The actuality of life shown here forces readers to face reality rather than a world of make believe. Dialect plays a huge role in the novel projecting realism to the reader. It is giving them insight to what life looks when it rejects romanticism and idealization.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a dynamic novel that is able to transcend time due to its great verisimilitude shown by the dialect as well as illustrate the possibility of real racial relationships. Although there are outdated particulars, that is not what needs to be focused on. Twain knew what he was doing when he wrote this “controversial” book. Realism played a huge part in Twain’s writing. He wrote vividly and with such detail. Huck Finn said it best, “That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it”. When reading the novel, a specific lens that includes openness and lack of ignorance must be used. Read the novel with these tools and one will see Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a new light.

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