Friday, 13 October 2017

Fiction Reads: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

I’ve just completed reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and I loved it. It is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It is a rich assimilation of the local colloquial English in Missouri in the 1830s and a sharp take on slavery and the ethos of a former society where slavery and racial segregation were prevalent. This book is also about wit, fun and adventure coupled with sensitivity. It is set in the fictitious town of St. Petersburg in Missouri where Huckleberry Finn, an adolescent boy finds a sum of money along with his friend Tom Sawyer. Finn is also the narrator of this story. With a drunken and mostly absent father who is highly irresponsible and under the care of Widow Douglas and her sister Widow Watson, who are trying to civilize him, he wants to shirk to shirk it all to live a life of adventure. Ironically, his wish is granted when his father, who abhors the idea of Huck Finn receiving an education, takes him away to the woods to live in his cabin. However one fine day, he manages to escape while his father is away. He fakes his own murder (Twain’s description of it is marvellously real and descriptive) and there begins his journey of adventure. He meets Jim, Widow Watson’s slave who is on the run as he could’ve been sold for an amount of $800.

Jim is headed to Cairo in Illinois and then to Ohio, a free state. On the way, Jim and Huck encounter several adventures and different characters. To cut a long and interesting adventurous story short, this novel questions the various types of conflicts arising from race and human dignity. Huck’s mind is in conflict while he aids and befriends Jim while Jim reciprocates and takes care of him. The former begins to understand the latter’s tribulations. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a must-read because social and racial segregation is prevalent until today. Slavery was abolished ages ago; however, racial violence, sub-human treatment, prejudice and stereotypes continue to exist. Twain had remarked about his work saying, “A book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat.”

(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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