Huck Finn Realism

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Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, recognized as a novel that shaped American literature, is regarded by many as the greatest literary achievement an American author has yet produced. First published in 1884, the book tells the story of two runaways, a white boy and a black man, and their journey down the Mississippi River, inspired by many of the author’s experiences as a river-boat pilot (“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”). Regarded as one of the first American novels that represent realism, in which authors depict life and society how it actually is, Huck Finn’s adventures are full of audacious escapades and turns of events, while setting a realistic tone that emphasizes racism and the flaws of society in Twain’s time and condemns characters for immoral actions. The realistic styles of the novel allow it to be one of the most influential and popular of Twain’s books, still read by the general public today.
Mark Twain, whose legal name was Samuel Longhorn Clemens, rose to respect and admiration from humble beginnings. He was born in a two-room clapboard home that his parents, John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens, had rented in Florida, Missouri. Sam was the fifth of six children that added their weight to the thin support that was the family fortune (Covici). He was born on November 30, 1835 and spent most of his childhood near the city of Hannibal, along the bank of the Mississippi River, observing its busy life. Although chilled by the bloodshed and violence spawned there, he was fascinated by its romance and excitement. When his father died when he was twelve, he went looking for work inside Hannibal, and he began working as an apprentice for local printers, contributing occasional squibs to the newspapers. His com...

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...obvious humanizing of the character, and Twain offers this human view of African Americans to his post-Civil War audience carefully: through the innocent mind of a white child. Multiple themes portray important social aspects that were surrounded by debate at that time, but these are more subtle in the novel. The story, on the surface, is just a series of quests taken on by a young boy trying to find his way, but deeper meanings are hidden underneath. In a sense, Huck symbolizes the struggle within each of us to come to our own terms with right and wrong. His journey is one that was relevant well over a century ago, yet still touches sensitive subjects today. This ability to span across the ages and be applicable in so many different time periods, along with relatable human characteristics and intricate plotline, makes it one of Twain’s greatest literary works.
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