Summary: the Ending of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Many readers have found the ending of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be an anticlimactic let down. After finishing the novel, I have come to the same conclusion. Events in the final chapters of the novel including Jim’s imprisonment in the Phelp’s farm, Tom Sawyer’s absurd schemes for helping Jim escape despite his knowledge of Miss Watson’s will, and Huckleberry’s relapse into old habits all contribute to the decline in quality towards to end of novel.

One aspect of the end of the novel that is upsetting is the large amount of focus that is placed on Tom Sawyer. This shift in focus from Huckleberry Finn to Tom Sawyer could possibly be a device used by Twain. Twain circles back to the atmosphere in the very beginning of the story where Tom Sawyer had a dominating presence over Huck in the gang. Tom Sawyer is presented in the story as very confident and assertive character whereas Huck is portrayed as a weak character who feels lost and out of place in society. Tom ending the novel as a sort of hero that Huck once again looks up to and admires ruins all of the maturation Huck has undergone on his journey with Jim. Adding on to this, in the end of the book when Huck falls back under Tom’s influence he becomes once again childish and adventurous. Huck is no longer the strong boy that shouted out “all right, then, I’ll go to hell” in order to save Jim from slavery, but a child who wants to participate in games while rescuing Jim.

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The addition of Tom Sawyer’s character not only minimizes Huck’s character but Jim’s as well. The ridiculous schemes Tom makes while freeing Jim are one of the largest let downs of the novel. The humourous plans that Tom makes include having Jim write on the walls a coat of arms with statements such as “here a captive heart busted” and “here a poor prisoner, forsook by the world and friends, fretted out his sorrowful life”. Tom also insisted on incarcerating Jim along with rats, snakes, and spider. These acts initiated by Tom destroy Jim’s heroic struggle for freedom from slavery, one of the more serious topics of the book. Additionally, Twain allows Jim’s character to submit to the absurd pranks. By doing so, he degrades Jim and even removes part of his humanity. By the end of the novel, similar to Huck in a way, Jim’s changes from a strong and brave man searching for freedom to an ignorant slave.

A final part of the book that is a let down is the part where Miss Watson frees Jim in her will. This is not representative whatsoever of southern slave owners. By adding this unrealistic change of heart into the novel, Twain deserts the powerful critique of southern society that he had created earlier on in the novel. This is similar to how he abandons the strong characters that Huck and Jim evolved into in the end. These abandonments are what led me and possibly other readers to conclude that the ending of the novel is disappointing and anticlimactic.   

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