The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is about a young boy, Huck, in search of freedom and adventure. The shores of the Mississippi River provide the backdrop for the entire book.
Huck is kidnapped by Pap, his drunken father. Pap kidnaps Huck because he wants Huck’s $6000. Huck was awarded $6000 from the treasure he and Tom Sawyer found in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck finally escapes from the deserted house in the woods and finds a canoe to shove off down the river. Instead of going back to the widow’s house, he decides to run away. He is sick of all of the confinement and civilization that the window enforces upon him. He comes across Jim, Miss Watson’s slave, and together, they spend nights and days journeying down the river, both in search of freedom.
While traveling on a raft down the river, Huck and Jim have many adventures and during many long talks, become best of friends. They find a house with a dead man. They end up stealing many things from the house. They find a wrecked ship, and go on it, only to be mixed up with murderers. They get away with money and some other goods. They get separated from each other in the heavy fog, but eventually find each other. A steamboat crashes into their raft and Jim and Huck are separated again.
Huck has a run-in with the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons, two families at war with each other. He is reunited with Jim shortly after this. Then, they meet the King and the Duke, and get into a good deal of trouble performing plays. The King and the Duke pretend to be Peter Wilks’ long lost brothers from England and try to steal all of the money left behind in his will. They escape before they are caught. Huck finally gets rid of them, but is left to search for Jim, who gets sold by the King. He ends up at Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Sally’s house, where Tom and Huck rescue Jim.
Through all of the adventures down the river, Huck learns a variety of life lessons and improves as a person. He develops a conscience and truly feels for humanity. The complexity of his character is enhanced by his ability to relate so easily with nature and the river.
While Huck Finn was rather humorous and fun to read. Much of Twain’s idea about society, because of the nature of the book, it remains hard for me to see it as more than a children’s adventure story. So, you must read this story.