Analysis of themes, structure, and social change in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

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Analysis of themes, structure, and social change in

Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

By Jimmy Jackson

The Late 19th century was an era in which writers began to challenge the traditions, ideas and stereotypes of society. It was a time when people began to take the time to question the age- old traditions and work towards change. Written in pre -Civil War America, Mark Twain was a champion of this individual thought in his novel The Adventures of huckleberry Finn. He Remarkably creates a character Huck who transcends the expectations of society on his escape to the river. Twain begins by presenting Huck as an individual who stands up against his social conscience. The reader is left to praise him for this, and is extremely disappointed in the end when Huck falls back into the role of an obedient, ‘small’ person, overshadowed by the nonsense of Tom Sawyer. Twain has this fascinating and yet maddening way of exposing the truth only to conceal it once again.

The role of the novel seems to fall back into the stereotypes in which the ignorant society sees things. Huck looses his idiosyncrasy; Jim loses his humanity and ‘strong head.’ He becomes the “nigger” again. This is all obvious yet what is not too clear to see is that the relationship between Jim and Huck is the same as Huck and Toms. The reader sees that Jim is a humane, intelligent capable human being, and yet he continues to see himself as inferior to whites and listens to everything tom says, no matter how absurd it is. Likewise, we see that Huck has heroic, individual qualities, yet he thinks he shall go to hell and looks up to Tom in awe.

“If you read it you must stop where the nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end.” -- Earnest Hemmingway

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Leo Marx was a strong supporter of this view, however this perspective misses the whole book. He, along with many others, sees the ending as Twain’s being evasive and as giving up on his Theme. They believe that Mark Twain found himself in a “structural” dilemma and merely conjured up the safest and easiest ending to sum up the book, even if it contradicts his whole novel. It is hilarious that anyone could think this. Marx shoots down Eliot and Trilling’s infatuation with form yet he goes on to claim that “ The return in the end to the ...

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