Written by Mark Twain and first published in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn became a classic, one of the best American literary achievement. Surrounded by controversy, the adventurous story is partially inspired by Twain`s own experience as a river-boat pilot.
This novel revolutionized American literature and its value is uncontested. Still, the book was banned from schools as parents thought it corrupts young children because of the hero`s character – he curses, steals and lies. It also contains racist issues. Even now there are schools that put it on the list of banned books.
Huckleberry Finn is introduced as Tom Sawyer`s comrade and the story begins where The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ended – on Mississippi River, in St. Petersburg. In order to escape from his drunkard father Pap, Huck simulates his death and runs away down the Mississippi River where he meets Jim, a runaway servant who wants to go to Ohio where he can buy freedom for him and his family. Even if at first Huck is tempted to announce Jim`s running away, he gets to know him better and become friends. Their friendship makes Huck changes his ideas about slavery, people and life.
They begin an adventurous journey down the river. Huck dresses as a girl in order to find out the latest news in the area. This way he finds out there is a reward for Jim, as he is accused of Huck`s murder, so they pack and leave with the raft. Huck and Jim are separated and Huck ends up staying at the Grangerfords, a rich local family that is in dispute with another local family, the Shepherdsons. There is a gunfight between the two families, but Huck manages to escape, even though he is devastated by seeing his good friend Buck dead. Huck reunites with Jim and they go further.
The Duke and the King, two cunning grafters, join them on the raft and more adventures follow. The King sells Jim as slave and Huck decides to free him. Jim was on the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps, Tom Sawyer`s aunt and uncle. Huck pretended to be Tom, but Tom shows up and accepts entering the plan pretending to be his younger half-brother, Sid. They make a complicated and ingenious plan of escape for Jim. Tom is shot in the leg during the escape and Jim chooses to stay with him instead of running away, so he is captured again. Everybody finds out the true identity of the two boys. His owner`s death made Jim a free man. Huck is being told that his father is dead so he can return home safely. At the end, Huck writes that he is glad he finished writing his story but, even if Sally wants to adopt and civilize him, his plan is to go west to Indian Territory.
Themes and style
The narrator is Huck Finn himself, telling the story in his own language. It is the first novel in American literature that used the child`s perspective and the vernacular. The major theme of the novel is the search for freedom while the story fights against racial prejudices. Other themes are morality, friendship, life principles, hypocrisy and slavery.