Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or, in more recent editions, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, the narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective) and a friend of Tom Sawyer. It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Plot – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Huckleberry Finn whose adventures are the material for this novel is the son the town drunk of St Petersburg, a ruthless man without even an iota of fatherly love. By the time Huck appears in the novel, together with his friend Tom Severe, he has found in a robbers den a treasure of twelve thousand dollars in sovereigns, The money equally divided between Huck and Tom and safely deposited in a bank under the guidance of Judge Thatcher makes him rich. But is the last thing Huck wants in life.
In acknowledgement of saving her life, the kindhearted Widow Douglas adopts Huck as her own son. The grooming he undergoes in the household of Widow Douglas and her self-righteous sister Miss Watson becomes intolerable to Huck, due to the constant emphasis they make on manners, cleanliness, school, and church. Huck cannot escape from this as his friend Tom Sawyer insists that, in order to remain a member of his “robber’s gang”, he has to be respectable.
Although the process of civilization he undergoes right now is so severe and challenging he manages to survive it, until his father, greedy for his money, abducts him to his wooden hut in an isolated place on the bank of the River Mississippi. Huck leads a life of torture in this lonely hut, where he is a prisoner carrying out his father’s orders when he is present, and locked up with no possibility to escape when he is away.
A brainy guy by nature, Huck spends his time determined to find his way out on his own. One day, while collecting firewood, he sees a canoe drifting on the river. He pulls the canoe to the shore and hides it in a secure place as the very first act of an escape plan. Then he finds inside the hut a saw without a handle and fixes it in his own way. For quite a number of days he secretly keeps sawing a plank of the wall behind the table.
Ultimately, once his father is away, removes the piece of wood from the wall, collects all that he wants into a sack breaks the padlock at the entrance, opens the door, covers the floor with dust, kills a wild boar in the forest, sprinkles its blood on the ground to make it look as if he has been kidnapped by some robbers, runs to the canoe with his sack, and paddles off to Jackson’s Island, which does not have any people living there.
For a few days Huck enjoys the spirit of freedom and independence, but this ends when he perceives the signs of another person’s existence on the island. Huck explores the island carefully and meets his friend Jim, the Negro slave of Miss Watson. In the mean time a rumor that Jim has killed Huck and is now in the hiding spreads all over St. Petersburg. Huck and Jim together from their hiding place watch one day a group of people on a steamboat searching for Huck’s dead body.
On a rainy day the river swells up and a lot of things are being washed off to the two friends’ surprise are amusement. They keep on collecting various items which they find useful. Huckleberry Finn ‘s father wooden house too comes floating but Jim prevents Huck from seeing his dead body inside it.
Huck, in order to find out what’s happening goes one night to St Petersburg in the guise of a girl. He meets a woman who is also interested in winning the cash prize set on Jim now known as Huck’s murderer. Satisfied with the news about the actualities of the town, Huck hurries back to the using place, wakes Jim up, and quits the island immediately on the raft had built together.
They resort to a life of testing by day and drifting on the t by night, For weeks and weeks they live on fruit and vegetables stolen from the gardens, fish caught in the river, and birds and animals snatched from farms. They make their raft into a cosy dwelling place by building on it structure serviceable as a tent and a day in the middle with a thick layer of mud for making fire on cold days.
Their lifestyle changes for some time as they get separated from each other when they plunge into the water leaving the raft an attempt to avoid a collision it was about to have with a steamboat. They both end up in the estate belonging to the aristocratic family called Grandgertoni and live there happily for sometime but without knowing each other presence.
Their accidental meeting coincides with Huck’s decision to leave that place after a feud between the two rival aristocratic families, the Grandgerford and the Shepherdsons, which takes many lives of both families. Huck is happy for the union of the Grandgerford daughter Sophia and the Shepherdson son Hurtle (whose elopement causes the sudden eruption of their age-old hostility this time, but is sad for the many lives cost for no reason.
By this time Jim has been wise enough to save the raft and repair it for future use, and that makes their journey easy Again they start their usual lifestyle and find life on the raft preferable to any. Yet they cannot go on like that too long. They rescue two rogues from a violent man hunt and have them on their raft. One of them introduces himself as a displaced English duke (the Duke) and the other as the long-lost heir to the French throne (the King). Huck and Jim sense that falsehood at once but they call them respectively “Your Highness” and “Your Majesty ust for fun.
Life becomes full of surprises for Huck and Jim because of these two, as they play unimaginable types of tricks upon the people wherever they land so as to make a living. On a tip they get by accident they pretend to be the two brothers Harvey and William of a propertied man called Peter Wilks whose funeral is due the following day. They outwit the entire township of Orlears except one Dr Robinson. Even the three daughters of Peter Wilks get fooled by them. But Huck secretly exposed to the eldest girl the two as rogues and saves the bag of six thousand gold coins for the girls. The rogues are publicly burned from the town once the real brothers of Peter appear and establish their identity, but that does not solve the problem Huck and Jim have with them. They straight away come to the rat in a great hurry, and join them.
In the next town the King sells Jim to one Silas Phelps as a runaway slave. Fortunately, Silas Phelps and his wife Sally are his friend Tom Sawyer’s uncle.
And when Huck goes in search of Jim and find shelter in their house, pretending to be their nephew Tom. Soon Tom Join him but disguised as his brother Sid on Huck’s Instruction Tom and Huck together plan the rescue of Jim. While Huckleberry Finn wants to help Jim to escape quietly, Tom wants to make it a dramatic exercise carried out in style.
They dig a tunnel to the hut where Jim is imprisoned, so Jim can quietly walk out and provide him with many things that great prisoners in fiction have used in their heroic escapes. In fact they cause so much damage to the Phelpises in this matter. They warn the Phelps about the abduction of Jim on the proposed night, and get everybody on the farm to keep vigil.
As planned they take Jim out in a hugo commotion. While running to save his life from a band of people pursuing Jim, Tom gets shot on the leg, Despite the boys insistence that Jim should escape, Jim takes Tom to a doctor and through the doctor’s mediation surrenders himself to Mr Phelps. By this time there comes Tom’s aunt Polly. She reveals that Miss Watson freed Jim in her last will before she died. The news about Jim’s freedom makes everybody happy, all including Tom who is with a bad leg right now.
Finally, Huck divulges everything to Aunt Sally and makes it clear that the intention of his visit there rla has been just to rescue the poor Jim from slavery. Interested in helping Jim to the purchase his wife and children, Huck wonder what has his father done to his money.
Jim reveals then that the man who had been found dead in the wooden house was Huck’s father. Huck gets depressed about Jim for hiding it from him, male but cools down when he explains the difficulty he felt at that moment in the meantime. Tom tells him that the money still remains safe in the bank. He is now no more worried about going back to St Petersburg, as his father is no more there to trouble him. He wants to go there especially to escape from Aunt Sally who is waiting to give a try to civilize him as Widow Douglas used to do once.
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Sasindu Jayasri is an Engineering student at Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.