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The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain

1919 words - 8 pages

The mid-19th century was a period of time in the United States wrought with strife, resentment, and disunity due to the issue of slavery. The issue quickly culminated into the American Civil War, a war that was fought over slavery. After the war concluded, the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution abolished slavery in the United States. However, despite the slaves being freed, the issue of the morality of human enslavement still remained embedded in the minds of thousands of Americans. In 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, was published. The book tells the adventures of a boy, Huckleberry Finn, while he helps free a slave, Jim. Throughout the narrative, young Huck faces multiple dilemmas over the issue of slavery and racism; ultimately, he continues to help Jim escape though he is faced with constant opposition to that decision. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain draws on his past experiences towards the institution of slavery in order to depict his characters in a way that glorifies anti-slavery characters and vilifies pro-slavery characters in an attempt to denounce the institution of slavery.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known more commonly by his pen name Mark Twain, was born in 1835, during the antebellum period in the United States. In the period before the civil war, slavery was a legal and thriving institution. Clemens himself was “born to a family who owned slaves” (Arac 42). Therefore, the fact that Clemens came to support the emancipation of slaves, as well as the institution of black rights, is intriguing. Clemens’s change in views, leading to the composition of novels such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, can be greatly attributed to the interactions with various people in Clemens’s life. In Huckleberry Finn, Clemens immortalizes these important people in the form of characters. For example, the two main protagonists in Huckleberry Finn are based off of real people. Huckleberry Finn is based off of Clemens’s childhood friend, Tom Blankenship (Colwell 71). Twain once described Blankenship by calling him “the only really independent person…in the community.” By consequence, he was “continually happy, and was envied by the rest of us” (Colwell 72). In the case of independence, Huck is similar to Blankenship in the way that Huck relied, primarily, on himself during his journey. In the case of happiness, Huck shows his happiness with his independence by describing the feeling of being “free and satisfied” when he is isolated on the Mississippi River or elsewhere in the wildness (Twain 1). Clemens’s interactions with Blankenship showed Clemens the happiness and tranquility that could stem from complete freedom, liberty, and independence that Clemens eventually immortalized in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the character Huckleberry Finn.

Jim, the other main protagonist, is based off of three African-American men that Clemens knew. These men were...

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