• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Many critics have made attempts to discredit "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by pointing to its final episode-where Tom Sawyer reappears and masterminds Jim's escape plan from prison.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Many critics have made attempts to discredit "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by pointing to its final episode-where Tom Sawyer reappears and masterminds Jim's escape plan from prison. They have called this episode "irrelevant"(Young 200-201) and a "flimsy"(Marx 426,430) contrivance, a serious "anticlimax"(Van O'Connor 6.) Only T.S. Eliot and Lionel Trilling have tried to defend the pattern of the novel. Both present weak arguments. Eliot feels the end of the book rounds off the story and brings the reader back to the level of childish, boyish beginning, while Trilling sees the close of the novel as a device, which permits Huck to fall back into the anonymity he prefers. I suggest that Mark Twain had a very definite plan in the final episode, which depends on repetitions and variations of themes presented earlier in the novel. His primary objective in the "fatal" last chapters is to ridicule, in the manner of Don Quixote, the romantic tradition as exemplified by Tom Sawyer, who lacks character and is full of purposeless fun; and to win final sympathy for the realistic tradition and its hero, Huck, who has achieved a sense of responsibility and a meaningful vision of life. In "Life on the Mississippi", Mark Twain had already suggested his deep concern with the unwholesome effects of Romanticism: "A curious exemplification of the power of a single book for good or harm is shown in the effects wrought by Don Quixote and those who's wrought by Ivanhoe. ...read more.

Middle

For every exaggerated plan Tom proposes in the final episode, Huck comes up with a practical one in such a way that the reader realizes that he is challenging Tom's previously questioned authority. This is evident when Tom plans Jim's first escape, First, Tom says: " I wish there was a moat to this cabin, If we get time, the night of escape, we'll dig one." Huck replies: "What do we want of a moat when were going to snake out from under the cabin?" They continue on in this way as Huck reports the conversation: " ' No, it wouldn't do-there ain't necessity enough for it' ' For what ' I says 'Why, to saw of Jim's leg' he says 'Good Land!' I says; 'why, there ain't not necessity for it. And what would you want to saw his leg off for, anyway?' ...'But there's one thing-he can have a rope ladder...' ...'Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk' I says; 'Jim ain't got no use for a rope ladder"(240-241.) In this scene, Huck clearly demonstrates the childlessness and impracticability of Tom's romantic view and as a sharp contrast, the practicality of his realistic view. And though he momentarily says that Tom's head is getting "leveler," Huck openly criticizes the "authorities" (the romantic books of the past), which Tom has depended upon since Chapter II as his code of conduct: "When I start to steal a nigger or watermelon, or a Sunday-school book, I ain't no ways particular how it's done so it's done. ...read more.

Conclusion

IN Chapter XXXI, he decides to free Jim, yet he knows that he is wicked, a sinner in Tom's society. He says: "All right, then, I'll go to hell..."(214.) In the last episode he no longer feels evil because he is overwhelmed by Jim's nobility. He listens eagerly as Jim explains why he stayed behind to nurse Tom when he could have escaped to freedom. "'Well, den, dis is de way it look to me, Huck. Ef it wuz him that 'uz bein' sot free, en one er de boys wuz to git shot, would he say, "Go on en save me, nemmine 'bout a doctor f'r to save dis one'? Is dat like Mars Tom Sawyer? Would he say dat? You bet he wouldn't! Well, den, is Jim gwyne to say it?'"(275-76) All that Huck can say to Jim's reasoning is: "I knowed he was white inside..." This entire episode, based on Tom's lie, cannot be considered fatal because Huck settles conflicts presented earlier in the novel. Important themes, which are repeated and varied, furnish the key. It is only in the last chapters that Huck completely rejects both Tom's romantic irresponsibility and society's cruel nature. It is only here that he understands Jim's true worth, after battling his conscience through many chapters. Finally, it is the honest and humble way in which he faces and then resolves each of the above mentioned conflicts that show Huck's developing strength of character and it is that which makes him the hero to Twain's novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Mark Twain section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Mark Twain essays

  1. 'Treasure Island is a 'rites of passage' novel that tells of Jim Hawkins' spiritual ...

    In the apple barrel Jim discovers the true nature of Long John Silver. The writer also reveals a crucial theme of the novel, greed. 'I want their pickles and wines and that'. Greed is what has driven the pirates to plot of mutiny, and ironically greed is also why Jim,

  2. Mark Twain uses the plot of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to reveal the ...

    Contrarily, some people do not possess enough knowledge of the issues to understand the novel's message. "It is a concretely liberating effect, and therefore different in kind from Whitman's vision of democracy, which can hardly be said to have been understood by or to have found a response among any considerable number of Americans," explains DeVoto (6:466).

  1. In the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain discusses facets of past ...

    His decision to publish an antislavery novel was incredibly bold and brave, as the atmosphere of the country was largely that slavery should remain a part of the country's laws.

  2. Critical Analysis of Huckleberry Fin

    cave, the imagery of the description configures the fantasy of returning to the maternal womb, only with a violent twist: We unhitched a skiff and pulled down the river two mile and a half, to the big scar on the hillside, and went ashore.

  1. The runaway slave named Jim teaches an ignorant and innocent white boy named Huck ...

    come to him again in thee swamp, up there where the feud was; and suck-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet

  2. Huck Finn: Oh, the Irony of Society!

    that the sheer morality of the man created in him. Irony was another strong factor in Twain's method of persuading his audiences. He effectively uses petty, seemly insignificant instances such as Tom Sawyer's boyish delusions of grandeur as metaphors of greater connotation.

  1. Literary analysis of "Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"

    Gradually slavery became a socially acceptable practice. Moreover, in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck Finn, the protagonist, finds nothing immorally wrong about slavery since slavery was a part of everyday life in the South. This reflects on southern societies ignorant and hypocritical views by slavery were widely accepted, despite being an act of injustice and servitude (Grant 3).

  2. Development of Jim in Huckleberry Finn

    Eventually, the reader is lead to sympathize and relate to Jim while he takes on the traditional role of a ?white man? and Huck that of a ?black man?, evidence of Twain?s slow transformation of Jim from the typical comic relief to the unusual source of reason and humanity.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work