Tom Sawyer gets on my nerves.
But this story isn’t about Tom — although he does try to sabotage it. Isn’t that just like him. And the brat almost succeeds. Huck Finn, on the other hand, possesses innumerable contradictory facets that when juxtaposed reveal enlightening viewpoints on ethnic prejudices and compass — Wait, where are you going? Come back!
Mark Twain saw this coming. Realizing critics and literary scholars would analyze Huck until nothing remained but used bird cage liners, he penned the following introduction:
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 in it will be shot.
Which tells you what kind of a sense of humor he had.
I got another revealing look at Twain’s quirky sense of humor while reading a compilation of the author’s witticisms. A reporter visited Mark Twain’s home for an interview and was told by his wife, Olivia Clemens, that he was still in bed (a preferred place to write), but that she would tell him. When she informed Twain of the man’s visit, he refused to get up. Instead he invited the reporter to hop into bed with him for the interview.
I never found out if he accepted the invitation.
I’d go in-depth on the novel only I’m terribly intimidated by Mr. Twain’s threats, plus I’m feeling a little lazy. Basically it’s about a boy in the mid-19th century who escapes from his abusive, alcoholic no-good father on a canoe/raft, then joins a runaway slave named Jim and they get into all sorts of adventures and mishaps on the Mississippi river. Then Tom Sawyer butts in. The End.
If you’re looking for a good movie adaptation (albeit not 100% faithful), try Huck Finn starring a young and very cute Elijah Wood. It’s funny, emotional and exciting and features Wood wearing an endearing mischievous grin.
I will only add that Huckleberry Finn is an amoral, plotless book with not a hint of a motive to it. Happy, Mr. Twain? Good.