Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Thoughts: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Monday, March 26, 2012
 *Don't read this if you haven't read Huckleberry Finn, as it contains spoilers*
Genre: Classic
Series: Tom Sawyer #2 (kind of...)
Source: Borrowed
Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer's partner in crime, is still adjusting to being civilized by the Widow Douglas when his Pap returns to town. At first, everything's fine, but as Pap becomes increasingly violent, Huck decides to run. He ends up escaping on a raft with Jim, a runaway slave, and as they sail up the Mississippi, facing duels and thieves and kings, Huck is forced to reexamine everything he has been taught.
I don't review classics because oftentimes, I don't have much to say. Most people are going to read classics no matter what, so what's the point? When I finished reading Huck Finn, however, I needed to rant write about it, but I don't want to rate it. Hence, Book Thoughts instead of Book Review.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn came *this* close to making a Mark Twain fan out of me. Towards the middle of the book, I started to really fall in love with it, with Twain's political commentary and Huck's growth and the relationship between Huck and Jim. The more serious and gruesome scenes were broken up by moments of humor in just the right places and it was very clear that this wasn't just a sequel to Tom Sawyer, but a book with its own identity.

And then, the last twelve chapters hit.

Before I tell you why the last part of the book disagreed with me so much, let me just say that reading Huck Finn made me realize something: I didn't dislike Tom Sawyer because of Twain's writing at all. I just despise the protagonist. Honestly, if a Top Ten Tuesday post is ever titled "The Top Ten Most Annoying Main Characters Ever", Tom Sawyer will be number one. And, of course, he has to return to spoil what was turning into one of my favorite books and be his general irritating self.

Tom aside, though, the problem was really the author himself. Twain takes the readers on this incredible journey of a young boy breaking free from society and overcoming racism.... only to be back where he started at the end. The last few chapters hold no substance of any kind- just an overabundance of fluffiness. Not only that, but Twain essentially pulls an "it was all just a dream" ending when he has Tom blurt out that Jim has actually been free the whole time. Excuse me, but what?! All those pages of Tom's nonsense and Jim's suffering and pulling hair out (that last bit was on my part) for nothing?

Then there's Jim, who Twain has been depicting as a real, intelligent, caring human being just like anyone else. But at the end, Jim is completely fine with Tom's antics, even praising a plan that kept him confined with snakes and vermin for weeks. It's as if the author tries to undo everything he set out to do with Huck Finn and I can't even tell you what a massive let down it is.

Some critics say it's satire, but I don't buy it. Honestly, I think Mark Twain was just grew tired of Huck. Not only is he letting down his characters and his story, but his readers, as well. The ending left me feeling like I had just gone through a bad breakup and to be honest? I'm still in the angry stage.

What did you think of Huck Finn? Satire or no? Good or bad?