The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Huckleberry Finn lives a comfortable life with Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas, but Huck hungers for adventure and freedom from their attempts to "sivilize" him. Huck's deadbeat father returns and kidnaps him in an effort to claim a large sum of money that Huck earned as a reward for helping capture some robbers. Huck fakes his own death to escape from his father, and then takes to the river in a canoe. As Huck is hiding out, he meets Miss Watson's runaway slave, Jim. The two set off on a great adventure down the Mississippi to help Jim gain his freedom. Along the way, they spend time with wealthy folks and scoundrels. They are even reunited with Huck's friend Tom Sawyer before discovering that Miss Watson's death has left Jim a free man.
Huck and others refer to a number of Bible characters (Moses, Solomon, Noah and Judas, to name a few) but most often name them incorrectly, take their stories out of context or attribute words of conventional wisdom to the Good Book. Miss Watson's attempts to convert Huck failed. Huck repeatedly takes her explanations of God and the Bible too literally and becomes discouraged with praying because "nothing come of it." Huck struggles inwardly about whether he should help Jim, since it means he's stealing from the woman who took him (Huck) in. He starts to pray for forgiveness but determines instead to free Jim and return to a life of "wickedness." At a tent revival, the king (a hustler with whom Huck and Jim travel) cons the crowd out of money by making up a hard-luck story and passing a hat. Some feel that this book is a diatribe against Christianity.
Other Belief Systems
Huck puts a lot of stock in folk legends, and his beliefs about bizarre supernatural phenomena only intensify as he spends time around the highly superstitious Jim. Huck says that slaves are always talking about witches, and Jim performs spells with a hair ball removed from the stomach of an ox. Huck mentions "Providence" a few times, once saying that Providence always gives him the right words (lies) when he's in a bind.
This book's portrayal of slavery, particularly its frequent use of the word n----r, has made it controversial. One slave named Balum is nicknamed "Balum's Ass." Huck kills a pig by hacking its throat, and he spreads its blood around so people will think Huck died. Tom Sawyer's wild plans, often based on stories he's read, are filled with murder and bloodshed. Jim finds a dead, naked man who had been shot in the back.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.
Smoking: Huck smokes a pipe.
Alcohol: Huck's dad, the king and the duke, along with other minor characters, are drunks.
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