Mark Twain was a humorist, an American journalist, lecturer and a novelist. Samuel Langhorne Clemens is his real name, Mark Twain being his stage name. He acquired fame internationally for his narratives on travel. The adventures of Huckleberry Finn provide a description of his hometown and his experiences. It begins in St. Petersburg, with encounters in Jackson's Island by Huck and Jim. It then shifts its attention to a journey full of perils down the Mississippi river to the Deep South. The distance from St. Peter in this journey creates a different distance, a complex and ironic perspective of the book, which is his masterpiece with great certainty. Autobiographic origins of his book are evident in characters. He says in the preface that "Huck Finn is drawn from life"
The scene is derived from an important aspect in Twain's childhood experience while in Hannibal. In this novel, Jackson's Island is the setting of the author's troubled youthful experience which took him years to understand, assimilate and express. The fact that Huckleberry Finn's composition had lots of starts and stops, taking a good part of a decade for the author to complete, shows the complexity of the process. The existence of slavery during Twain's childhood was for a long time unremarked by Twain. What prompted him to have a look on this issue that was in existence, in his youthful life may be his awareness of violence and intimidation to southern Blacks resulted by the failure of Reconstruction, a view by Shelley F. Fishkin. This failure resulted in it being a focus point of social commentary. This was in 1876, the anniversary year marking the declaration of independence and distressingly the year that the book was began.
Consideration of such sources shows there was an experience across time in the novel rather than nostalgia as was in the case of Tom Sawyer. Another source was Twain's encounter with Jimmy, a ten year old black, whose power of speech and interesting presence, may have had an influence on the development of Huck's character by the author One of the greatest achievements in the novel was sustaining Huck's voice thus immersing himself into this "other" boy consciousness. Tom's has a correspondence in Twain's theatric life. His wearing of white suits and triumphs as a speaker come to mind. Differences existing between the other boys show how Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer dramatize different kinds of adventure. Tom's adventures result from good imagination while Huck's adventure involves an evasion from real life dangers.
One of the most critical fact that Twain is criticized for having done is depicting a picture in which the black in the society accepted their lesser position. This has brought about many discrepancies among the scholars in the literature society (Arac, 26). As Twain ends the story he makes Jim appear as a clown when he goes together with Huck’s plan that is meant to please Tom considering how far they came together and what they had to endure. The connotation that Huck tries to pass along in the book is how the black man is always and will always be the lesser no matter how much he tries.
The book can be considered as pure brilliance due to the effect it has on the reader, mostly because of its innocence. As much as the book has been appraised for having a racist tone to it, it still remains a fact that Twain was trying to point out something that existed during the antebellum period in America. Twain’s unconventional method of literature should be celebrated for it creativity to capture once excitement and sense of adventure. The fact that the book bordered more on bigotry should not be used to belittle the authors ability The fact that Twain uses Huck to overcome social prejudice throughout the book shows that he was not more bent as a racist although he lived in the period. Through it all, Twain captures all the aspects of Huck while he grows up which in the end makes the book a success (Arac, 17).
In conclusion, Twain depicts a certain realism that shows life during the antebellum period. His depiction of Huck’s character as the protagonist and at the same time companionate boy sounds as though it was coming from the Finn himself. Through the words and thoughts of Finn, Twain has depicted an era where racism took center stage and where slaves were a common site. Twain also depicts an age of stereotype thinkers through his main protagonist. However, as much as the book remains critical to understanding the antebellum age it has received its share of criticism throughout the years. Twain is hailed as a genius, a racist and a world class writer. According to scholars in literature, the book was written from episodes that happened during his life, the book has received worldwide acknowledgment for its opens.
Arac, Jonathan. Nationalism, Hypercanonization and Huckleberry Finn. Boundary 2, Vol 19 No. 1, New Americanists 2: National identity and Postnational Narratives (Spring, 1992). Pp. 14-33.