Monday, February 2, 2009

Better start ducking bullets...


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.


(quoted from the title page)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

But that's not the reason that Tom got shot. Yes he did get shot!! Hang in there until the end of the blog and I'll tell you who done it. Let's talk about Huck.

Huck's story meanders as much as the river it takes place on. It's not nearly half as much light-hearted fun as Tom (that is, not until Tom himself makes a reappearance in the last few chapters). The book has its own merit, though. Basically it follows Huck's adventures as he runs away from home and floats down the Mississippi river with a runaway slave named Jim. Some of the things they experience are downright ugly (and I'm not talking about how they caught catfish in the river every day...have you ever seen a catfish?...bleh). There's murder, drunken beatings, family feuds ending in massacres, con artists, and just about every kind of filth imaginable. Huck meets up with the lowest of the low on his adventures. Is that really the kind of person he belongs with?

I just don't understand Huck. Several times he has a chance for a new life. People who want to adopt him, educate him, clean him, dress him well, etc... Huck himself has a fortune of over $6,000 dollars at the beginning of the book. What does he do? Runs away. Leaves it behind. Why? He doesn't want any of it. He'd rather be poor and free to do whatever he wants. Is he a bad kid? I don't think so. He makes plenty of good decisions. He's smart too. So why does he keep running away from good society to go back to the slummy type? Perhaps it's because that's what his father is like. Nurture?...or nature? It's up to the individual reader to decide.

Ok, enough rambling. So...who shot Tom Sawyer? I bet you'd like to know. Alright, I'll tell you. But I'll set it up a bit for you first. At the end of the book Tom and Huck are conspiring together to free Jim (the runaway slave) who's been captured once more. They have several easy opportunities, but Tom has his opinions on how it should be done. He wants it done with flair. So after doing several things to make Jim's life as a prisoner more miserable (because that's how all good prisoners in books are) they're finally ready to execute the escape. Except once again Tom thinks it's too easy. So he "nonnamously" tips off Jim's captor about the escape attempt. As a result 20 farmers with guns are guarding Jim when the time comes. Tom and Huck still manage to get away with Jim (at least some of Tom's brilliant planning was effective) but not before leaving Tom with a bullet in the calf. I don't know if anyone in this world has been as thrilled as Tom Sawyer was when he discovered he'd been shot. Honestly. Boys. And if you know one you should tell him to read these books. They're great.

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