Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Huckleberry Finn

I finally read what I should have read ages ago, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. Its an exciting adventure novel that for me showed what can one achieve with just cleverness and self-reliance, but the last chapters turned out to be a Kafkian absurd nightmare situation without escape.

Up until the point Huck and Tom reunite to rescue Jim from the Phelps' slavery is a backdrop that  was part of the time, even if its hard to imagine that people would keep other people as property. It gets harder to accept that Huck doesn't think for one moment that liberating Jim is not a crime. Huck treats Jim as a bit stupid; in the novel he and most other blacks are portrayed as superstitious and are looked down upon.

I cannot judge how much of this is true for the era, but I can decide that the last adventure of the book — where they make up an elaborate plan to help Jim escape — is just plain cruel. Tom Sawyer plays with Jim's life like it was nothing and has him suffer through the fantasies of his with horrible effect on the poor Jim. The worst of all is that Jim trusts them the whole time and goes trough the plan just because Tom is white so he must know better.

In conclusion I am happy that those times are over even if the positive aspects of the era — where one could find hospitable people in any home, if he was not shot first — are lost as well.

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