“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote. “It’s the best book we’ve had.” Many critics share this high opinion of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Yet some people have called the book crude and racist, and it has been banned by some libraries.
Set in the South before the Civil War, the book tells the story of young Huck Finn, who runs aways from his abusive father. Huck teams up with a runaway slave named Jim, and the two head down the Mississippi River on a raft. Along the way, they meet feuding families, crooks, and Huck’s friend from an earlier Twain book, Tom Sawyer.
When Jim is captured by slave catchers, Huck and Tom rescue him. At the end of the book, Jim learns that he has been freed by his owner, and the self-reliant Huck heads west to avoid being adopted and “civilized.”
It is a humorous tale, yet the author explores such key themes in American history as slavery, independence, and equality. Moreover, he captures with amazing accuracy the speech of ordinary people of the time. Twain, however, jokingly threatened to prosecute, banish, or shoot anyone who found a motive, moral, or plot in Huckleberry Finn. He wanted people to enjoy reading it. And for more than 110 years, they have.
Like his character, Huck Finn, Mark Twain grew up in a small Missouri town on the Mississippi River.