Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Theme of Youth
Huck Finn’s youthful naiveté is part of the charm of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Because of his young age, he is able to approach conflict with an innocence and curiosity that an older protagonist might lack. Too young to be fully indoctrinated with the values of antebellum (pre-Civil War) South, Huck gets to examine issues in light of his own still-evolving moral compass. Tom Sawyer’s runaway imagination adds another layer of adventurousness to the plot, and Huck’s contentment with the simple things in life remind us we’re not dealing with somebody who’s got a ton of personal baggage. Lastly, the playful tone of Huck’s narration strikes an interesting balance with the weightier topics of the novel, such as slavery, morality, and racism.
Questions About Youth
- Huck is a young guy, but he has these earth-shattering realizations about morality, government, religion, law, and family. Why did Twain write it that way? Could an older person have had the realizations Huck did?
- Tom seems to bring out the playful, childish side in Huck. Is this the biggest difference in them? Why did Twain throw Tom back in the mix at the end?
- Does the novel portray Jim and Huck as equals? Remember that one is a grown man the other a young boy. In what ways are Jim and Huck on the same level, and in what ways are they not?
Chew on This
Huck’s friendship with Jim is made possible only by the naiveté and malleability of Huck’s youth.