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The Themes of Friendship in 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1795 words Published: 9th Sep 2021

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written as though it were a story being, told by Huckleberry himself, and as though Mark Twain had no hand in telling of it. The story begins as follows: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth mainly. There were things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. Now, the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. The widow Douglas adopted me, and I permitted she could civilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I could not stand any longer I lit out. I got into my old rag and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer, he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back the widow and be respectable. So I went back.” (HF, Chaptter I) The story is given in a dialect spoken by the common people in the south-western part of the country at the time. For example: “without” was used instead of “unless”; “ain’t” instead of “isn’t”; “allowed” for “thought” or “decided”. The use of the double negative was also common. “Lit out” is slang for “run away.” A few months later Huck’s drunkard father who has been missing for more than a year, appears again. He has heard of the treasure that the boys found, and in hopes of getting the money, takes Huck away from the widow Douglas to a lonely hut in the forest. The father drinks himself to a state of insanity, and when he becomes so violent that Huckleberry fears he might kill him in one of his fits, the boy decides to run away. To make sure that his father would not even try to look for him again, he carries out a complicated scheme to make it appear that he had been murdered and his body had been thrown into the river. Huck had already hidden a canoe which he had found drifting on the river, and had already put into it some blankets, a gun to use for hunting game, and a supply of provisions. He gets into the canoe and paddles over to a long narrow island on the other side of the river where he thinks he can hide out unnoticed by anyone. The island is uninhabited and almost along side a dense, unpeopled forest.

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Friendship between Huck and Jim

He makes a tent of one of his blankets and sets up a camp. He thinks he is alone on the island, but a few days after his escape from his father he finds that someone else is camping there. It is Jim, a young Negro slave belonging to Mrs. Wat kins who lives in the village. Huck has always been on friendly terms with Jim and is glad to see him there. But when he learns that Jim has run away from his owner, he is very upset because in that part of the country it was considered a terrible crime, even a deadly sin, to help a runaway slave, or even to fail to report his whereabouts. But before Jim would tell him why he was alone on the island, he made Huck promise not to tell anyone else. Frightened at Huck’s reaction Jim pleads: “But mind, you said you wouldn’t tell – you know you said you wouldn’t tell, Huck”. Sick at heart Huck assures him that he will not tell even though people will call him “a low – down abolitionist” and despise him for not telling. Jim says his owner, Mrs. Watkins, had treated him well, but that he had overheard her say that a slave-trader from the South had offered her a large sum of money if she would sell Jim, and that she had agreed because she needed the money. So Jim had run away. For a while Huck and Jim continue living: on the island. Huck tells Jim to keep out of sight so that people will not see him, and he goes out alone to forage for food for the two of them. Once when he is away from the island, he overhears people saying that Jim is suspected of having killed him, Huckleberry, and that a reward of 300 dollars has been offered for his capture; that the smoke of a camp-fire on the island has been seen by someone in the village, and that they are going to get some men together and go after Jim. Huck hurries back to the island and says they must leave at once. They put all their belongings on a raft which had drifted to the island during a flood, and shove off into the river. The white boy and young Negro become very close friends during the trip down the river. They help each other in all their troubles. Huck nurses Jim when he has a fever after being bit by a rattlesnake and saves Jim from slave-catchers by pretending there is a man with smallpox on their raft (the slave-catchers leave in a hurry); Jim nurses Huck when he is wounded and helps him in every way he can. Huck finds that Jim is an admirable human being, that he represents all that is good in man, that he is kind and brave. Mark Twain contrasts the friendly, brotherly relations that develop between Huck and Jim, alone on a raft of on the river, with the bestiality and corruption that breed in the towns and villages on its shores.

Jim’s escape

The novel reaches the culmination when King has sold Jim. Huck decides to free Jim. Huck finds out, coming to the house in which Jim is being kept back that King has sold him for forty dollars. Arkansas aunt of Tom Sawyer thought that Huckleberry Finn is her nephew Tom, he decided to release Jim. Then Tom himself comes, and feigning to be his own half-brother Sid, accedes to follow Huck’s scheme. Instead of merely bring his friend out of the hut where Jim is being kept back, Tom makes up a detailed scheme to release Jim including mystery letters, a ladder which has been sent to Jim with food and clever elements from popular novels, containing a letter to the Phelps notifying them of an Indian tribe sneaking their slave. During the resulting chase, Tom’s leg is shot, and rather than finish his escape, Jim cares about him and makes demand that Huck find a doctor in town. It is the first case when Jim requests to do something them. Huck gives explanation to these his actions. Huck told Tom he had known that Jim was very kind and clever as white people. Jim and Tom are then captured and brought back by the doctor. Mark Twain gives the book a “happy ending”. Tom says that Jim has been free for a month: Miss Watson passed away two months ago and released Jim in her will, but Tom decides not to tell Jim about it so he makes up a detailed plan to save Jim. Jim says to Huck that Huck’s father has been passed away and Huck can come safely to St. Petersburg. In conclusion, Tom’s family wants to adopt and civilize Huck; he plans to escape west to Indian Territory.


Again and again, the course of his journey down the Missippi, Huck Finn meets imposture whose tendency to outworn “style” has guided to finish abandonment of common sense – and frequently to things much worse. Huck’s narrative start and finish with the achievements of Tom Sawyer, for whom “style” is everything, to carry excitement of romance and into the common world of the prewar south and Tom is scarcely unrivaled. Huck is in keeping with such romantic excesses with emotionless common sense. As to, Huck himself, while he tries to avoid evade to others, particularly Jim is in all other respects most characteristically irresponsible. He does not attempt to modify society but continuously escapes it – to the raft, where life is “free and easy and comfortable” – or at the close, “for the Territory ahead of the rest”. Huck himself is chiefly inactive. Thus Huck does not dispute Tom’s own belief in the “A-raps”; his skepticism is only personal. Even in chapter 31, when Huck rives the letter that would transmit Jim into slavery again, the moral significance of his resolve does not the aspect of anything like amenability. “All right, then” he declares “I’ll go to hell… I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brought up to it, and the other warn’t.” (HF, Chapter 31) Even though Huck refuses the type of behavior prescribed by society, he does not refuse society’s valuation of this behavior; his resolve continues to be for him a kind of “wickedness”. Huck never, this is to say, takes evident amenability for the moral superiority of his vernacular merits. Huckleberry and Jim are the main characters, the heroes, in Mark Twain’s book. His book about Tom Sawyer was almost purely a boy’s book, and it barely touched on the social problems of the time. But from the time Jim enters the story in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” the book becomes a social novel. Philip Foner wrote about the book: “Huck begins by regarding Jim very much as the whiter Southerner regarded a slave. Gradually, he discovers that Jim, despite the efforts of society to brutalize him is a noble human being who deserves his protection, friendship and love. This change takes place slowly in Huck, always accompanied by an inner struggle between the ideology… of slave society and the humanity of the boy.”

Twain wrote a novel that unites liberty and attempts to find freedom. He composed this novel when it was the Post-Civil War epoch when there was a strong white reaction against blacks. Twain aimed straight against racial opinion formed beforehand, enlarging segregation, lynching, and the commonly accepted opinion that they are not clever. They said blacks were silly. He “made it was good, deeply loving human and anxious for freedom.” Mark Twain’s humour in this book is softer, gentler than one generally finds in his work. You can find here lyricism that Mark Twain seldom indulged. Mark Twain gives a realistic portrait of a typical life of white people and black people. Mark Twain shows understanding of a young boy’s psychology in his story.

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A lot of contemporary scientists have told that Mark Twain concentrated on racism and he attacked on it in his book. Other scientists of Mark Twain have debated that he didn’t give enough consideration to the problem of racism, specifically in its description of Jim. Professor Stephen Railtion wrote: “Twain was unable to fully rise above the stereotypes of black people that while readers of his era expected and enjoyed, and therefore resorted to minstrel show-style comedy to provide humour at Jim’s expense, and ending up confirming rather than challenging late – 19th century racist stereotypes.” However, the fact remains; that the word “nigger” is nearly always put in the mouths of villainous characters in fact it comes mostly from the mouth of the most disreputable character of all, Huck’s comic-villain father, “Pap”, in chapter 6.


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