Huckleberry Finn Book Report
This paper will be broken into two sections; the summary of key ideas from the book and the evaluation of the book. The summary of key ideas will discuss: the type of work this book is, the main ideas of this book, how the author developed these ideas, how the author substantiated his points, and the impression of this time period the author portrays. The evaluation of the book will discuss: my opinion of the book, insights gathered concerning this time period from the book, if this book supports or contradicts the way the authors of our textbook portray the time period, any bias in the book, is the book enjoyable, and finally is the book worth reading. All these points will be covered in the following paragraphs in chronological order.
Summary of the key ideas
The book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a fictional story about a boy’s adventure floating down the Mississippi River. This book is organized into 43 chapters each containing at least two events each which are written above the chapter number. The book contains many ideas and events but there are three main ideas portrayed throughout the book.
The first idea that is portrayed is how African Americans are treated in this time period. This idea is portrayed throughout the book by Jim the run-away slave who floats down the river with Huck. The author portrays this idea through the way Jim acts, the way Huck and other whites treat Jim, and how Jim is forced into hiding whenever he is around whites other than Huck, king, and duke.
The second main idea is how free everyone was back then. People could up and leave any time they wanted and live prosperously off the land. There where jobs but not the kind where you had to report to a boss. Usually you sustained yourself by knowing a trade such as farming, blacksmith, boat captain, etc. Some people chose to steal, rob and swindle there way into money, which is portrayed well by the characters king and duke.
The third main idea is that of what teen life might have been like in the 1800’s. This idea is portrayed in the character Huckleberry Finn. Huck is a teen that had a deadbeat father who constantly abuses him and tries to take his money to go drinking. Huck is taken in by Widow Douglas and Mrs. Watson, each of which tried to civilize Huck. Huck who was born free naturally didn’t like this but continued to go along with it because tom Sawyer told him to. Soon Hucks father demanded custody of him again only to abuse him and lock him up. Huck decided that he couldn’t take anymore and one day faked his own death and took off down the river. This portrayal could have occurred back in the 1800’s due to the fact that they didn’t have any of the modern tools of today to find him or see if it was his blood that was on the ground (Huck killed a pig to get the blood to fake his death). The life of teen in the 1800’s is also portrayed by the gang that Huck joins in the beginning of the book with Tom Sawyer and others.
The impression of this time period that the author conveys is that of social differences and the roles of people in 18th century society. He distinctly shows the roles of the people through the different characters in the story. He portrays a runaway slave in Jim’s character, a teen-age boy in Huck’s character, a bum/drunk in Huck’s father’s character, a swindler in the king and duke, and an average person in “the woman” and her husband. All of these people not only portray different roles in 18th century society but they also are all linked with certain events associated with that type of person in that time period. This format vividly describes the different types of lifestyles and roles people held in the 18th century which deeply involves the reader into the book and makes him/her feel as if they where really there.
Evaluation of the Book
The opinions presented in this book are somewhat stretched compared to what life really might have like been back then. For example the chances of a boy just deciding to leave instead of going to a house with a bed, free food and clothing are fairly slim. Not only that but after he leaves being able to survive in the wilderness on his own are also slim. This event presents an unrealistic opinion of what a teen might have done in a similar situation in any time period. This makes the book seem unrealistic and sort of takes away from the sense of it being realistic. Other than that the chances of the king and the duke being able to get away with half the swindles they performed is also very slim. It almost portrays the people of the 18th century as being stupid which takes away from the validity of the book.
Some insights that one may gain from this book are mostly in regards to the time period in which the book takes place. These insight show how African Americans where treated then versus today, how life was lived then versus today, and the type of society one might have lived in then versus today.
The book portrays all blacks in the 1800’s as being slaves. Some slaves just worked around peoples homes, some worked in the fields all day and some were runaways which where forced to travel at night and hide from whites during the day. An example of a runaway slave is portrayed in Jim’s character. Jim travels with Huck and is constantly on the watch for whites that are out to catch him. He is portrayed as a very nice person who wouldn’t hurt a soul, which probably wasn’t the attitude of most African Americans at the time. This portrayal makes the reader think of the way African American where treated in the 18th century and wonder why we ever committed such illicit deeds.
The book also portrays how life might have been back in the eighteen hundreds. It shows this point of view in many different instances when Huck goes into various towns to either look for Jim, follow the king and duke, or look for food. It shows how life would have been almost accidentally just by describing the lives of the people through their actions and descriptions. For example when Huck dresses up as a girl and talks to the woman she describes what life is like for herself and her husband and also describes how a girl should act while she explains how she knows that he is not a girl. These tid-bits of information are scattered throughout the book and gradually help portray what life might have been like back then.
Not only do Huck’s trips to town help portray what life might have been back then but they also portray the type of society that one might have lived in. This is a society with little law, hard workers, and virtually total freedom. In this society the only law is that of what the townspeople believe should happen. If someone has done a bad deed the town gathers a mob and goes to lynch that person. An example of such an event is when Sherburn shot Boggs. Soon a crowd gathered outside Sherburns house threatening to lynch him for shooting Boggs. The town’s people saw the deed as unlawful and decided to lynch the supposed criminal. This is the sort of law the book portrays most towns having in this time period.
This book which is set in the 1800’s is based in the pre-civil war time period. It does not seem to contradict the class text but it does support how our book portrays African Americans as being treated. As stated above the book portrays what the life of a slave would be like through the character of Jim and through other encounters with slaves throughout the story. These encounters vividly depict slaves as being treated as property and good for nothing but working. There are many instances where rewards for capturing a slave are mentioned showing how they are treated as property and should be returned to their rightful owner. This supports the impression of the time period portrayed by the authors of our text in that both tell of how slaves are treated as property.
This book contains few if any examples of bias. The book tells a fictional story that contains little bias and doesn’t portray any disagreeable points or impressions. The author seems to tell a fictional story set in a realistic setting.
The value of this book has been predetermined to be an American Classic. It has been determined to be such by its brilliant portrayal of 18th century life and its appealing character and storyline due to the numerous adventures the character undergoes during the course of the story. It is also written in an interesting and enjoyable style, which makes it not only informative and interesting but fun to read as well.
All in all the story of Huckleberry Finn is an American classic that portrays what life was like in the early 18th century. It is an enjoyable book that tells of murder, robbery, growing up and other adventures. I would highly recommend this book to anyone because it is an interesting, funny, and enjoyable book that could be read without an assignment to back it.