Posts Tagged ‘Huckleberry Finn’

Welcome to Challenge Tuesday!

This is the development of my 2014 (a book a week) reading challenge; Thursday posts were too long with this section added so I decided to have a dedicated challenge post instead. As luck would have it, January 1st was a Wednesday so ending each week on a Tuesday works nicely ūüôā

Today’s post finds us at the end of week 10.

I’ve finished 3 books since last time I updated you, all of which¬†refer to US slavery to some extent and were written in the 19th Century. I read unabridged versions – and that means constant, repeated use of a word that I never use and which is¬†incredibly offensive now. ¬†It is important to see how language changes¬†over time – both in usage and meaning. However, I can well imagine that some people would be deeply unhappy seeing the word in print.

Book 13 – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – This felt like a children’s book, which I wanted, and to some extent I got the sense of justice missing from The Great Gatsby. ¬†However, Tom’s annoying little brother persona was a bit off-putting. My favourite section was when he and Becky were trapped as Huck stalked the ‘baddies’; the two characters showed their qualities here. It was a shame they reverted to type after that! This book wasn’t really my cup of tea and I wonder if that’s partly because the behaviour of the key characters was so ‘boyish’, but I did like the fact that most loose ends were tied up – such as Tom’s courtroom confession and¬†Injun Joe’s fate.

Book 14 –¬†The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – This was more grown up, until the end: bringing Tom back into Huck’s life changed the tone entirely. The main part of the story was about doing what is right – so Huck protected a runaway slave who was his friend rather than follow the law and send him back to captivity. Equally, he reclaimed the swindled gold, and did what he could to right the wrongs he had done. He regressed once he was back with Tom, from a thoughtful, self-guided person to a disciple of Tom’s. Jim suffered the most for that and perhaps that was the moral of the story: what we do impacts on others.

Book 15 –¬†Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – I read that this book was pivotal in sewing the seeds of the civil war in the US. ¬†I also understand that there are long-running debates about it. ¬†I have nothing to add to those debates and read the book as I would any other – from the first word to the last!

The book opened as the situation for key characters was suddenly disintegrating, and you knew straight away that Christianity would have a big bearing on the storyline. ¬†Tom seemed overly accepting of his fate, but I guess this made him a less threatening hero to the audience of the time. ¬†The religiosity throughout was explicit: the depiction of Eva as some sort of guardian angel was a little too extreme for me. ¬†Tom’s journey beyond St Clare’s death was another example of how actions or inactions harm others, as in Huck’s tale: you have to be angry that he was put in that position by people he had trusted. ¬†The neat ending for George and Eliza and their families¬†(plus their fortuitous meeting at the Quaker settlement) didn’t work in¬†the context of the book; it seemed detached from the reality of pain, loss and humiliation that marked so much of the earlier book. Again, I assume that the more positive ending was important to the reception of the book.

These three identified something I hadn’t appreciated before: I have a preference for British ‘classics’, probably because I had more exposure to this style of writing in my youth. ¬†I don’t notice this¬†as much¬†in modern writing so I’ll be interested to see if there’s a period of time in writing when the different styles converge!

Happy writing and reading,



Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: