More than anything else, this is a great story. It’s fun to read and eye-opening in so many ways. You all know the basic plot: a young white boy flees a bad situation in St. Petersburg, Missouri and hooks up with Jim, a runaway black slave. They float down the Mississippi River on a raft and have many adventures including getting taken advantage of by con men, barely escaping murderers, and so on. It is an American classic.
It is told in the first person by Huck Finn in the dialect of that time and place. It could be a difficult read for people whose English is not their first language, or even English speakers who didn’t grow up or live a long time in America. This includes use of the word nigger and depicts the racism of the day in stark detail. For this reason, among others, the book is considered controversial. Some find it a satirical exposé of that racism and the cruelty of slavery while others see it as racist itself. I see it as both. I think Twain was trying to show that cruelty and the injustice of racism, but also held typical white southerner’s views of blacks as inferior to white. Jim is not depicted in a favorable way as to intelligence, although he is a good soul.
In the end, I see no point in trying to judge the book by today’s standards. It was just a ripping good yarn and I’m glad our book club chose it.