Saturday, February 18, 2017
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
On February 18,1885, Mark Twain (1835-1910) published his famous and controversial novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). Though Twain saw Huck’s story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.
At the book’s heart is the journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on a raft. Jim runs away because he is about to be sold and separated from his wife and children, and Huck goes with him to help him get to Ohio and freedom. Huck narrates the story in his distinctive voice, offering colorful descriptions of the people and places they encounter along the way. The most striking part of the book is its satirical look at racism, religion and other social attitudes of the time. While Jim is strong, brave, generous and wise, many of the white characters are portrayed as violent, stupid or simply selfish, and the naive Huck ends up questioning the hypocritical, unjust nature of society in general.
Even in 1885, two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn landed with a splash. A month after its publication, a Concord, Massachusetts, library banned the book, calling its subject matter “tawdry” and its narrative voice “coarse” and “ignorant.” Other libraries followed suit, beginning a controversy that continued long after Twain’s death in 1910. In the 1950s, the book came under fire from African-American groups for being racist in its portrayal of black characters, despite the fact that it was seen by many as a strong criticism of racism and slavery. As recently as 1998, an Arizona parent sued her school district, claiming that making Twain’s novel required high school reading made already existing racial tensions even worse.
Aside from its controversial nature and its continuing popularity with young readers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been hailed by many serious literary critics as a masterpiece. No less a judge than Ernest Hemingway famously declared that the book marked the beginning of American literature: “There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
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Quotes from The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
Here are some examples of Twain's most familiar quotes from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In these examples, you will see how Twain's masterful use of dialog serves to put the reader right into the middle of this exciting and complex story.
"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." Notice (opening page)
"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth." Chapter 1
"After supper she got out her book and learned me about Moses and the Bulrushers and I was in a sweat to find out all about him; but by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time; so then I didn't care no more about him, because I don't take no stock in dead people." Chapter 1
"Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches." Chapter 2
"'Ransomed? What's that?' 'I don't know. But that's what they do. I've seen it in books; and so of course that's what we've got to do.' 'But how can we do it if we don't know what it is?' 'Why blame it all, we've got to do it. Don't I tell you it's in the books? Do you want to go to doing different from what's in the books, and get things all muddled up?'" Chapter 2
"'Yes-en I's rich now, come to look at it. I owns mysef, en I's wuth eight hund'd dollars. I wisht I had de money, I wouldn' want no'.'" Chapter 8
"We catched fish and talked nor the next." Chapter 12
"Mornings, before daylight, I slipped into corn fields and borrowed a watermelon, or a mushmelon, or a punkin, or some new corn, or things of that kind. Pap always said it warn't no harm to borrow things, if you was meaning to pay them back, sometime; but the widow said it warn't anything but a soft name for stealing, and no decent body would do it." Chapter 12
"'Quick, Jim, it ain't no time for fooling around and moaning; there's a gang of murderers in yonder, and if we don't hunt up their boat and set her drifting down the river so these fellows can't get away from the wreck, there's one of 'em going to be in a bad fix. But if we find their boat we can put all of 'em in a bad fix - for the Sheriff 'll get 'em.'" Chapter 12
"Conscience says to me 'What had poor Miss Watson done to you, that you could see her nigger go off right under your eyes and never say one single word? What did that poor old woman do to you, that you could treat her so mean?...' I got to feeling so mean and so miserable I most wished I was dead." Chapter 16
"What's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?" Chapter 16
"It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain't agoing to tell all that happened - it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night, to see such things . . ." Chapter 18
There warn't anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn't any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it's cool. If you notice, most folks don't go to church only when they've got to; but a hog is different." Chapter 18
"To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin, That makes calamity of so long life." Chapter 21
"Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people - whereas you're just as brave, and no braver." Chapter 22
"I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n." Chapter 23
"H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?" Chapter 26
"'I know what you'll say. You'll say it's dirty Low-down business; but what if it is? - I'm low down; and I'm agoing to steal him, and I want you to keep mum and not let on. Will you?'" Chapter 33
"Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn't ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another." Chapter 33
"I knowed he was white inside, and I reckoned he'd say what he did say - so it was all right, now, and I told Tom I was agoing for a doctor." Chapter 40
"I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before." Chapter 43