The plot is marked by adventures in different settings – with the introduction of new characters in each setting – but it was hard to follow the conversations which involved Jim, who spoke in a local dialect. Moreover, there is controversy over how Jim may be perceived to embody unfair stereotypes, the ubiquitous use of the word “nigger”, as well as the convenient conclusion to the novel, though for a reader who is not necessarily cognisant of the American culture and moral themes which characterise the period, the aforementioned encounters make for a colourful read.
Huckleberry Finn, or Huck, and Jim are at the centre of the novel, and while they are fellow travellers who have escaped from dissimilar circumstances – the former from his drunk, abusive father and the latter from being sold to more brutal owners – Jim is the guardian in the relationship. In fact, Jim’s moral strength and steadfastness is contrasted with the recklessness and immaturity of his younger counterpart, who redeems himself at the end of the novel during the escape plan, when he remains by Jim’s side despite risking capture.
This bond between Finn and Huck also means that conflicts are foreshadowed – as they make their way along the Mississippi River – when the pair is separated. Misfortunes in this regard do not necessarily befall either individual, such as Huck witnessing the bloody clash between the aristocratic families of the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons.
There are perhaps broader representations or allusions – in particular, of the perceptions and actions Huck and Jim may stand for – resulting in an incomplete appreciation of the novel. Descriptions of the people and places may have been lost on me too. Still, the novel is characterised by the strength of the narrative (besides the need to spend more time on Huck’s segments), and for instance the episodes involving the “duke” and the “king” are entertaining, and their swindling ways pave the way for the climax.