Category Archives: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Who are the people in your neighborhood?


After spending some quiet moments walking through Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Hartford garden, I turned to my family and said, “It’s time for Twain!” while I walked across Stowe’s backyard to Twain’s home.  That’s right.
They were neighbors

MT house 3

Remember the Sesame Street Song “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?”

“Ohhh…  aaaaan… is a person in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood,
in your neigh-bor-hood.
An author is a person in your neighborhood.
A person that you meet  each day.

The Stowe family and the Clemens family were neighbors.  Harriet could walk out her backdoor across the lawn to borrow a cup of sugar from Samuel.

Mark Twain’s family did not just live in this home.  They had it designed and built for them.
And, yes, you can imagine him writing Huckleberry Finn in one of those upper rooms because he did!

MT house 2

The cost of tour tickets was prohibitive for our family of five.  We decided to walk the grounds and spend time in the museum.MT house

The museum and gift shop entertained us with details of Twain’s life.  For example, we learned that Samuel Clemens took his future bride Olivia to see Charles Dickens perform!  We also enjoyed reading many of the humorous quotes attributed to the novelist.  One of my favorites was
Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Quickly it was time for us to return to our van and continue with our travels, but not before I got a chance to see what it felt like to wear that famous white suit.

C as MT


Want to learn more about Twain’s home in Hartford, CT?  Visit their website.  It was there that I enjoyed taking the virtual tour  of home’s interior.


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Some Dads

Happy Father’s Day Sancho, Christian, Gulliver, Mr. Bennett, Fagin, Mr. Brockelhurst, Arthur Dimmesdale, Ahab, Arthur Shelby, Charles Bovary, Marmeladov, Vronsky, Damon Wildeve, Gilbert Osmund, Pap Finn, and Tom Buchanan.

Thanks for not being my dad.

You see, he’s pretty awesome.  And you guys, well, let’s just say that you’re best left where you are:  inside the covers of a book.

Dad Dance


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The Fastest 300 Years EVER!

Sancho and the donkey.  Christian.  Yahoos and Houyhnhnms.  Elizabeth and Darcy.  Oliver.   Bertha-in-the-attic.  Hester and Pearl.   Moby Dick.   Uncles and Madams.  Rascal.   Anna-Kitty-Levin-Vronsky-oviches.   The Heath.   Isabel.   Huckleberry.   The Journeys of Henry and Marlowe.   And now Lily, whose outcome, at least for me, is still uncertain.

While paging through the Well-Educated Mind list of fiction books, I realized that Don Quixote was published in 1605 and House of Mirth in 1905.   300 years!  I congratulate myself and you, fellow readers, on plowing through 300 years of literature.   May the crop be plentiful!  I suggest a glass of red wine and some good chocolate to celebrate.



I Thee Read

Another blogiversary, another year of reading bliss.

Blogiversary Two

For better, . . .

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Crime and Punishment
Anna Karenina
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Red Badge of Courage

for worse, . . .

Madame Bovary
The Return of the Native
The Portrait of a Lady

for richer, . . .

Rodolphe Boulanger
Augustine St. Clare
Stepen Arkadyevitch Oblonsky
Lord Warburton

for poorer, . . .

Berthe Bovary
Sofya Marvelodov
Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov

in sickness, . . .

Nikolai Demitrich Levin
Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya
Ralph Touchett
Clym Yeobright

and in heath, . . .

Pansy Osmond
Huckleberry Finn

till death us do part . . .

Evangeline St Clare
Uncle Tom
Emma Bovary
Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladov
Alyona Ivanovna
Lizaveta Ivanovna
Anna Karenina
Mrs. Yeobright
Eustacia Yeobright
Damon Wildeve
Daniel Touchett
Ralph Touchett
Pap Finn
Miss Watson

So who did you love and cherish most this past year?


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WEMever the Twain Shall Meet

Despite what Samuel Clemens implies about the usefulness of a well-read education, I’m inclined to believe he followed a curriculum very similar to ours.  Just look at all of the places that there are parallels between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the rest of our reading list:

Don Quixote

  • Tom mentions reading the first of all novels, and even suggests acting it out.
  • The self-appointed Duke and King reminded me of our self-appointed knight errant.
  • Huck and Jim are on quite a quest, with a fairly foggy future outcome.  I found myself often asking, “Where are they going with this,” just as I did inDQ.
  • Tom sets out in the most complicated fashion to help someone who didn’t need his help.  Let’s just face it, Tom is Don Quixote.

Pilgrim’s Progress

  • Slough.  Not of Despond, but I know I read about one, although I’ve lost the page number.
  • The Grandersons, for all their good Christian living, have a copy of this moral tale on the coffee table.  I don’t remember Bunyan having characters named Family Feud and Kill Thy Neighbor, but maybe I just missed a page.

Gulliver’s Travels

  • Can you say “satire?”

Oliver Twist

  • We haven’t encountered a story about a young boy since Oliver.  As a mother with four of her own, it was nice to get back into familiar territory.
  • Did anyone else think the plot tied up a little too miraculously at the end.? Huck just happens to stumble on the Phelps farm when they are expecting his best friend’s arrival?  Miss Watson just happens to die and free Jim?

Moby Dick

  • Water plays anhe important role of water in the lives of the characters.  The river is practically a character itself.
  • Superstitions abound in both situations.
  • Both authors tackled slavery in an indirect manner.
  • At the very end their is a character named Brother Mapple, which seemed just too close to Father Marple for me.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  • Slavery
  • Okay, I can be more specific.  Both use male slaves as the moral centers of their works.

Crime and Punishment

  • Huck’s internal struggles between right and wrong, action and inaction, and societal norms and the pull of his heart reminded me of the time we spent inside Raskolnikov’s brain.

The Return of the Native

  • The Mississippi River seems to be the kinder, gentler, yet still important younger cousin of Egdon Heath.

Did I miss any?  Are there any references to P&P, JE, SL, MB, AK, or POAL?


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A Classic Start

Hi, faithful readers!

I’m Christine’s oldest child, and way back when, I promised that I would read Huck Finn.  I only read chapter 1.  I was definitely not the most faithful reader.  Today, I had nothing to read.  So Mom produced the Classic Starts adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I read it in about forty-five minutes.  I, personally, think that if you want to read classics but aren’t the best or most faithful reader, you should start with the adaptation.  For example, when I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, I got stuck on the second page because of difficult vocabulary and confusing sentences.  Then I read the Great Illustrated Classics version and found it a lot simpler.  If you want to start reading this way, it’s easier.  When I read Moby-Dick, I found that the Classic Starts adaptation was more accurate than the Great Illustrated Classic version.ClassicStarts HF

I think that my favorite parts of the novel were when Tom Sawyer starts his gang and when he helps Huck free Jim.  He tries to imitate things he’s read in books, but finds that this is not always the best way to do things.  Sometimes its just better to do things simply.

Mom told me about how she has answer the question “What does the character want?”  I really don’t know what Huck’s ambition is.   Maybe Huck just wants adventure.  Maybe he has cabin fever. He’s stuck inside doing nothing and wants to go do outdoorsy activities.  What does Jim want?  He wants to be free and get back to his kids, even if it is without much wealth.  Tom’s ambition is to be adventurous.  He would like to be like the adventurous people he reads about in stories.  As for him doing things “like the books”, I wonder what books he read.

If I were to rename Huck Finn, I think I would call the book Huckleberry Finn: The Necessity of Good Parentage.  If Huck Finn’s father hadn’t been abusive, Huck wouldn’t have gone to Widow Douglas’s.  This would have totally avoided the parts when Huck’s father tried to find him, take him back to the cottage, and be abusive to him again which forced Huck to runaway and get into all kinds of weird problems.

Thanks for letting me share this adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel.


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The Illustrated Huck

illustrated huck finnMadame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, The Return of the Native, and The Portrait of a Lady:  Not a one of these books is suitable for a children’s adaptation.  Finally, we reach The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and I think to myself, “Yea!  Time to do some searching to see what’s out there for kids!”  Where’s the first place I looked?  Great Illustrated Classics of course!  It worked for Moby-Dick and Oliver Twist.

Friends, the Great Illustrated Classics have let me down.  I only made it to page twelve before being seriously disappointed.

We all met by a clump of bushes not far from the Widow’s house.  There was me and Tom and Ben Rogers and Tommy Barnes and Joe Harper.  We talked for a little while, and then we all took an oath of loyalty to the club.  We elected Tom captain and Joe Harper second caption, and then we started home.

What?  Is that how you remember the first meeting of Tom Sawyer’s gang?  What happened to signing the pledge in blood?   What happened to the ransoming discussion?Tom Sawyer's Gang

I skimmed the rest of the novel.  The meat is there, but there’s no seasoning.  No spice.    All the Twain flavor has been removed.

Let’s hope things improve with The Red Badge of Courage


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The Coat of Arms

coat of armsChapter 37 – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

On the scutcheon we’ll have a bend or in the dexter base,

A saltire murrey in the fess, with a dog, couchant, for common charge,

And under his foot a chain embattled, for slavery,

With a chevron, vert in a chief engrailed,

And three invected lines on a field azure,

With the nombril points rampant on a dancette indented;

Crest, a runaway nigger, sable, with his bundle over his shoulder on a bar sinister;

And a couple of gules for supporters, which is you and me,

Motto, Maggiore fretta, minore atto.

Got it out of a book – means the more haste, the less speed.

I read this once, then went back and read it a few more times, each time trying to imagine what in the world this crest must look like.   I could pull the meanings of a few words, thanks to recently studying heraldry and the Middle Ages with my daughters, and perhaps a few colors such as sable and azure (black and blue, right?), but on the whole, it was just one confusing muddle.    But I WANTED to be able to picture it, so I kept trying.   No luck.   Eventually I realized that it seemed more like Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky – “Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe…”

Was that perhaps Twain’s intent?  It did seem like he pulled out all sorts of interesting words to throw in here.   Words that Tom, despite his rudimentary education, could not possibly have known the meaning of.   Twain obviously loves language, his adventure in dialects being one of the most fun things about this novel, in my opinion.   (Still looking for a good recommendation for a read-aloud on this one – wouldn’t it be fun?!)

So, I decided to post this coat of arms written as a poem, above.   I’ll appreciate it for the sounds and words, if not for the meanings.   (Although I did find the above diagram – apparently some artist attempted to read with understanding!  Good for him.)


We Believe

Because I feel like we always need to present the Lutheran theological viewpoint on every novel, you must know this:  Unlike the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, we don’t believe in preforeordestination.

I don’t think.

Well, I’ll research Chapter XVIII a bit more, ask my Pastor, and get back to you.  But mind you, his preaching isn’t exactly what I’d call ornery, so I don’t know if he’ll really have the answer.


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Music is a Good Thing

What’s something just about everyone can sing together “with all their might?”

What’s a song that can “warm you up and make you feel as good as church letting out?”

What can really “freshen things up so?”

What song is truly “honest and bully?”

Why a “doxolojer” of course!

I have to agree, Huckleberry.

Perhaps our resident music expert can link us up to a really honest, bully version we can all belt out together from various geographical locations across cyberspace.  I’m in a “doxolojer” mood just about any time.

(P.S.  This touching moment takes place in Chapter 25.)