CBR12Bingo – Friendship
This is probably the tenth or so time I’ve read Huckleberry Finn, but the first time I have read it directly after reading the Adventure of Tom Sawyer, which changes things a little. Having re-read Tom Sawyer just previous to this, the very first thing that stands out is how much more the book seems to want to be doing. Tom Sawyer is about childhood and lampooning both the ways we talk about childhood, treat children, and write about childhood. Huckleberry Finn still is in a way, but it becomes more about the ways in which we inflict the world with male violence through a complete and total lack of guidance of how to be a man. And this is where the book begins (while landing squarely in the questions of race and humanity). One of the key episodes of Tom Sawyer involves Huck Finn finding out about and saving Widow Douglas from Injun Joe and his gang. His revulsion at the idea of letting her get hurt leads him to risking his life to save her by alerting a local family who protect her. But this book begins with Tom and Huck and other boys playing at essentially being Injun Joe and his henchman, with plans to kill and ransom (which they think means kill) their victims. So this replication of violence continues. As the book moves on, we also see Huck has had no real male role model in his life, with only Pap to show him, and Pap of course is the worst kind of offender being both violent and lazy (and greedy).
And so when Huck runs away he keeps looking for possible replacements, other criminals, the Duke and the King etc. It’s only Jim who shows Huck kindness and Huck can seem to never choose to do right by Jim because of his own personal failings, but especially because of the societal failings that allow Jim to treat Huck as human, despite Jim’s bursting with humanity throughout. All of this especially comes to a head in the final section with Jim captured, shackled, and poised to be sold back into slavery. Huck and Tom could free him instantly if they want, but it turns into a game for them, especially Tom, and the consequences are constantly dire. Luckily Tom gets shot and that helps to sort things out.
The other alarming part of the book is how many more times we here the n-word in this book compared to Tom Sawyer (one time). The difference here of course is one of audience, but also of narrator. Huck narrates this book, while a third-person narrator narrates Tom Sawyer. But it an alarming switch.
CBR12Bingo – Repeat (Repeat of Friendship)
Another bad sequel to Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, both of which are masterpieces in their respective right, this book (like Tom Sawyer, Detective) sort of squanders the good of the previous books to make some cheap points about societal progress and adventure writing. Ultimately this book feels like a made for tv sequel to the masterpiece films of the first books. Tom drags Huck and Jim to Africa, and well, you can guess about how well that works out for everyone.