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Seilgrank (seilgrank@schoolsucks.com)

American Literature

Huck Finn Thesis

10-8-97

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a book. It is not a comparison of the

hypocrisy in society. It is not a story about escaping from that hypocrisy. It is not a

metaphor for life. It is certainly not a symbolic comparison for the metaphoric simile of

the literacy of Mark Twain’s pet earthworm Jim. It is a book. A book written to create

enjoyment within the reader. Trying to analyze Huck is like when you’re touring a

museum and you hear some know-it-all in the back of the group stop and say, “Look at

the distinct curves, the flowing form, the complete contrasts of the reds and blacks.

Obviously the artist of this piece is trying to convey the deep hypocrisies in our

sociological circle.”

“Actually, sir,” the guide says, “it’s just a fire extinguisher.” That is all Huck is; it’s

just a fire extinguisher. (And, yes, I know I’m using a Huck-fire extinguisher metaphor

and practicing hypocrisy myself, but don’t even think about trying to analyze me or you’ll

find yourself missing a limb.)

The reason Huck is simply a good book and not a metaphor or analysis of

anything is because it more than likely is. Have you ever sat down to write something and

thought to yourself, “Hey, I like this part right here. It reminds me of the conflicts that are

occurring in today’s society. I think I will cleverly keep that idea as the underlying thread

that holds my piece together!” Of course not. No one thinks like that (At least, no one

who is at least halfway sane). Possibly you would think that the part you just wrote was

kind of funny, and you like that way it fits in the story. And, OK, maybe somewhere deep

in your subconscious, a little voice says, “Hey, I like this part right here. It reminds me of

the conflicts in today’s society.” But of course, that’s just a small part of why you wrote it.

You wrote it because you hope your readers laugh as hard as you did. That is probably

what Twain did. He wrote a funny story that he got a kick out of, and simply hoped that

we would like it too. He didn’t want us to over analyze it and pick it apart; he wanted us

to laugh!

True, this book contains many examples of hypocrisy, such as society saying that

all men are equal, but it’s OK to own slaves. Like that preacher who told the Sheperdsons

and the Grangerfords of brotherly love, which they wholeheartedly agreed with, and then

proceed to pick up their rifles and blaze away at one another after the sermon; Huck

finding it OK to steal from complete strangers, yet when it comes to “stealing” Jim from

Miss Watson he considers it wrong; and the Duke and Dauphin preaching temperance

and great Shakespearean dramas and drinking while they perform “Royal Nonsuch” are

all examples of the hypocrisies in the book. I can see how someone could conclude that

Huck is a metaphor for the hypocrisy in society. Of course, give me a good half-hour to

work and I bet I could convince you that Huck is actually a representation of Genghis

Khan, and Jim was Washington crossing the Delaware. It’s back to the fire extinguisher:

if you really want to, you can find evidence in anything to support your ideas, whether it’s

there or not.

Twain declared at the front of the book: “NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a

motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will

be banished; persons attempting to find a plot will be shot.” It simply states that Twain

does not want you to spend time looking for things in the book that are not in there. It

may seem like the book contains many morals, comparisons, and other tidbits of juicy

genre to be chewed up and spit back out is ferocious analysis, but that is simply not the

case. This is a classic example where the book can be judged by its cover. The cover says

?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? and that is all that the book contains. Nothing

more, nothing less.


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