Huckleberry Finn. Tried and true or tired and past its time?
When you listen to Elijah Wood read Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", you will know you are listening to a tale from the past, but without doubt, you will also know you are listening to a timeless story with themes that cross even into 2the 21st century and beyond.
Let us explain...
Huckleberry Finn's adventures occur along the banks of the Mississippi River before slavery was abolished. The town of St. Petersburg, Missouri was also the setting for Finn's predecessor Tom Sawyer. Huckleberry Finn takes up at the end of Tom Sawyer with tales of going from the chuch-folk life to a new robbers gang, an abusive father, a run-away slave, storms and floods, rafts, steamboats and a dead body. And that is only the start. The language used is realistic to its day. It is not realistic to today. This story is told in the vernacular of the American South in the 1800's. It must be listened to in the context of the time.
Beyond language, Mark Twain wrote about themes that transcend time and words. In Huck's relationship with the run-away slave Jim, we see how friendship can form even among unlikely companions. We feel the struggles of balancing one's own experience with societal expectations as Twain captures a haunting picture of society when he describes Huck's adventures. We feel what Huck learns - ambiguity exists. The lines between good and bad, right and wrong, are not as easy and clear as one might like to hope for.
Mark Twain, a classic and often studied and praised writer, lived from 1835 to 1910. Like his protagonist in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain hailed from Missouri. Born Samuel L. Clemons, he was a man of wit with a way of presenting the truth amidst a captivating story. He once said: "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." His tales of Huckleberry Finn say the same thing... if you let the story fill your soul as Twain surely intended.