Mark Twain vs. Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain vs. Huckleberry Finn

Many authors’ personal life experiences and ideals are reflected upon in their writing. For this reason, book’s characters, settings and themes often coincide with people and places from the author’s life, as well as lessons learned and views the author has or had on society. Just like many other works of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is one in which this reflection of personal experiences is evident.

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The author; Mark Twain presents his early life experiences to the readers and reveals his perceptive views on society at the time, his feelings towards racism and the slave society, and his childhood hardships through Huck’s journey, not only down the Mississippi River, but also through his journey in morality. Twain’s experiences in the south molded the characterization of Huck Finn, his reflection of Huck’s childhood hardships directly relate to those of his own. Huck and Twain both grew up in society with no father figures, financial upheaval, and poor education.

Twain’s father died when he was only 11, leaving the family in a lot of financial upheaval and despair. Although Huck’s father is not dead, he is an abusive and selfish alcoholic who only ever visits Huck when he can benefit from it, which is very rarely. This is shown in the text when Huck explains “The widow Douglass, she took me in for her son. ”(Twain 3) and when Pap states that “I hain’t heard nothing but about you bein’ rich…that’s why I come. You git me that money. ” (Twain 22) Both Twain and Huck went through childhood with absent fathers.

Another hardship that Twain experienced in his early years is the lack of formal education. He did not continue schooling after his graduation of elementary school. Very similarly to Twain, Huck is uneducated as well although he does possess a wealth of common sense that helps him to prevail in the novel. The fact that twain knew what it was like to grow up in life without a father figure, financial troubles and minimal education is portrayed through his characterization of Huck.

Twain utilizes Huck’s moral growth and his experiences with Jim and the southern slave society, to express his anti-slavery ideals in the novel. Twain is an abolitionist, or in other words, he is strongly against slavery but this was not always so. Growing up, Twain saw nothing wrong with slavery. This holds true for Huck as well, He accepts slavery as a normal part of society and it isn’t until later in the novel that it becomes clear that Huck’s opinions on racism and slavery are in fact changing.

The following quote from the novel emphasizes the point in the novel that marks Huck’s realization that slavery and racism may in fact be a bad thing: “S’pose you’d a done right and give Jim up; would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I’d feel bad- I’d feel just the same way I do now… what’s the use you learning what to do right, when its troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong. ”(Twain 94) Through Huck’s moral growth, Twain’s true opinions on the slave society become distinct.

Mark Twain presents his early life experiences in the novel and reveals his views on society, his feelings towards the slave society, and his childhood hardships through Huck’s journey down the Mississippi River and in morality. Authors, often times create stories and characters and settings that that are similar to events or people that have influenced on their own lives. Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn are prime examples of this because they both suffered similar childhood hardships are against slavery, and have similar views on society.


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