Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Adventures of Tom Sawyer / Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Adventures of Tom Sawyer / Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer is structured as a progression of short stories of young boys using their imagination and getting themselves into various adventures.

Huck Finn utilizes a similar structure.  Short, somewhat self-contained chapters.  And in both, the language is fantastic.

As the two titles imply, Tom Sawyer focuses on Tom as the protagonist and Huck in Huck Finn and just as Tom's personality differs from that of Huck (Tom is much more of a flashy, razzle-dazzle personality), the tone of the two books contrasts as well.   The tone of Huck Finn comes across as much more introspective.

Particularly when Huck ponders over whether he should do the "right thing" and turn in the slave, Jim, who he has been adventuring with, it's not some neat and tidy-Disneyesque decision (i.e. he personally has come to believe that Jim is a person too and he's standing up for what he believes in, blah blah).  Rather, he believes it's a decision that he will literally go to hell for and he enjoys being a rascal in that respect.  It's fantastic how fresh that actually comes across.

Similarly, it's striking how some of the observations in Tom Sawyer, but particularly in Huck Finn, dazzle with how current and relevant they still are.

Certainly, it helps to live in the South to have more appreciation for the accents that Twain writes in.

I did not really enjoy the introduction of Tom back towards the end of Huck.  The silliness of Tom's logic, however, did help me appreciate the more thoughtful approach that Adventure of Huck Finn took.

As for whole n*** word usage throughout Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, I think censoring it after the fact is going overboard with political correctness.  It's a record of history and how people thought and spoke. I'm reminded of Mickey Rooney's cringe-inducing yellowface role in Breakfast at Tiffany's and as much as I hate those scenes with him and think they take away from a great movie, they do demonstrate what the cultural acceptance was at that point in time and how much things have changed since then.

Anyhow, these are two classics for a reason and stand up strong even today.

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