Literary Companion: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

31/08/2020

Twain’s “(The) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is notable for many things, including its unique position as the first novel to feature contemporary slang in the first person. While the book is well-known for its frequent use of an ethnic slur, to the point of having a character named “[expletive] Jim,” it also serves as a satire of the American South by comparing that region to what it was like two decades prior. 
 
Travel fans will note that this particular story also involves a lot of adventure along the Mighty Mississippi River, the second-longest river within the United States of America (the USA’s longest river is the Missouri, by less than 200 miles). This winding river allows Finn and Jim to see many different parts of the country while sharing their insights about the world. 
 
For those unfamiliar with the story, it begins in a fictional Missouri town, St. Petersburg. Judging from the description and geography of the area, it is likely that Twain based this town on Hannibal. After a run-in with Finn’s shiftless father, he is dragged to Illinois but escapes to Jackson’s Island along the Missisippi. While in safer surroundings, Finn runs into friends and hears that Jim wants to head to the free state of Cairo, Illinois so that Jim can buy his family’s freedom. 
 
Finn reluctantly agrees to help Jim out and the two endure a rafting trip as the river floods, even learning that a manhunt exists to catch Jim. Soon, the duo becomes separated by colliding with a steamer ship that brings Finn to Kentucky. There he runs into a parody of the bitter Hatfield-McCoy feud that ends in bloodshed and a reunion with Jim. Arkansas marks the last state in the novel and involves grifters posing as European nobility and visiting a plantation. 

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