English Literature

Discuss the narrative structure in Huckleberry Finn. MEG-06

The book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain features an episodic structure in terms of its narrative structure. There are three components that may be split into:

Part I: In the first episode, we observe them on their escape journey :

First-person narration is used throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is continued on by the protagonist Huck Finn. This gives the work the feel of an autobiography, with Huck narrating his individual and social identity throughout the novel. The narrative becomes more serious and believable owing to the unavailability of commentary. Mark Twain was able to easily portray the most heinous facts of modern social life because he used first-person narrative in his writing. As the remarks of an adult writer, how it could have been considered offensive to the general public becomes readily tolerable via the lips of a sensitive little kid. It starts in the manner of Tom Sawyer, with Huckleberry Finn presenting himself as the narrator and reminiscing about events from the preceding book. Nevertheless, Tom is eliminated from the story in chapter 3, and with him, the romantic aspect in the shape of his effort to organise a gang of thieves is also lost from the story. With the introduction of Pap Finn, Huck’s alcoholic father, the story takes a dramatic turn in chapter 4. Huck, who can’t tolerate the Widow Douglas and her sister Miss Watson’s efforts to civilise him, can’t stand the unsettling presence of his father even more. He flees to Jackson’s Island after faking his own death in the cottage where his father had imprisoned him. When Miss Watson’s slave Jim finds out about Miss Watson’s intention to sell him across the river for 800 dollars, he flees to the Island as well. Huck and Jim reunite on the island, and Huck swears Jim that he would never betray him again.

Hearing that Jim is being pursued, Jim and a friend decide to flee together down the Mississippi River on a raft in search of safety. The eleven chapters that follow provide the foundation for the tale of Huck and Jim’s epic escape.

Part II: Their rafting adventure.

The following twenty chapters (Chapters 12-31) form the heart of the novel, detailing Huck and Jim’s trip down the Mississippi, initially on their own and then in the company of two con artists, the king and the duke. The trip is interrupted many times by events on the beach, in which the two frauds have a role in a number of them.

The connection between Huck and Jim, as well as his struggle with his conscience, is a major emphasis of this section.

Huck and Jim come upon a damaged ship named Walter Scott at the beginning of their journey. Huck makes several attempts to assist its stranded prisoners, but to no avail. Later, they both resolve not to become involved in similar misadventures.

As a result of the fog, Jim’s escape attempt to reach freedom through Cairo and the Ohio river fails miserably. As Huck listens to Jim’s excitement about his impending release, a struggle arises in his head, but in the end, he chooses to side with Jim. He then rescues Jim from slave hunters by putting them on the wrong route. Later on, they manage to avoid being mowed down by a riverboat.

The adventures on the beach begin with Huck’s meeting with the Grangerfords, who have a long-standing but futile rivalry with the Shepherdsons during which many of them were slain.

As of chapter 19, the two frauds have taken possession of the raft. Their exploits include masquerading as a repentant pirate and printer, performing Shakespeare’s plays, and, most importantly, imitating the English brothers of a local guy named Peter Wilks, who has just passed away. They come close to fooling the whole town with their last trick.

Silas Phelps had purchased Jim from the king for the sum of forty dollars, which Huck learns. After his remorse about assisting Jim, he decides to send a letter to Miss Watson, in which he expresses his regrets. But he eventually rips the letter apart and is now resolved to assist Jim in regaining his freedom.

Part III: Jim’s Liberation:

The last section, which consists of 12 chapters (Chapters 32 to 43), is mostly concerned with Tom’s overly complex plot to liberate Jim, which he refers to as ‘evasion.’ All of the action takes place in and around the city of Pikesville. Huck visits the Phelps farm in search of Jim, but he is mistaken for Tom Sawyer by Sally Phelps, Tom Sawyer’s aunt. Assuming that Tom would be arriving at the farm, Huck sets out towards the town under the pretence of retrieving his baggage, only to run into Tom on the way. Huck informs Tom of the situation and returns to the farm with Tom’s baggage.

When Tom arrives, he is greeted as his younger brother, Sid. The respectable Tom offers to be a ‘nigger stealer’ when Huck informs him of his plan to rescue Jim. Huck is both startled and amazed by this agreement.

Huck is dissatisfied with the humiliating departure that the two con artists make, which is coated with tar and feathers. Tom correctly deduces that Jim is being kept captive in a cabin. From this point on, Tom is in charge of organising and executing an extensive rescue effort for Jim.

Tom gets wounded in the leg during the escape attempt. Huck leaves Tom on the raft and goes in search of a nice elderly doctor who will heal his wounds. Uncle Silas is very concerned about Tom’s absence. Tom is soon sent home by the elderly doctor, and Jim is taken into custody. The doctor explains that Jim, rather of fleeing, chose to nurse Tom back to health. Tom has recently revealed that Miss Watson had freed Jim from her lease two months before, as stipulated in her will. Knowing that Aunt Sally has intentions to civilise him, Huck chooses to leave for the territory in order to attain his independence.

Discuss the narrative structure in Huckleberry Finn.

IGNOU MA English IGNOU MEG Solved Assignment English Literature


In his novel “HUCKLEBERRY FINN” Twain has been characterised as temperamentally incapable of maintaining the continuous attention needed for storylines that are tight and well-developed. It has also been argued that the flexibility afforded by the picaresque form was perfect for his abilities. Despite the episodic pattern inherent in the picaresque genre, the book has been praised for its internal consistency and coherence. In reality, as has been argued before, Mark Twain’s use of a modified kind of picaresque storytelling is most effective for his purposes since it enables him to make societal critique via the first person while still focusing on Huck’s moral development.

As well as having a consistent theme throughout, the different episodes are linked together by a unifying voice and point of view from the narrator. Despite the episodic nature of the framework, it does not lack a sense of design. The events on land in St. Petersburg and Pikesville, which take place before and after the river trip that forms the heart of the book, serve to both preface and conclude the narrative. The river or the road that moves itself also contributes to the structure’s overall coherence by directing the trip and steering Huck and Jim in a certain path. The episodes essentially are held together by a recurring pattern of metaphorical death and rebirth that runs throughout the series. When Huck fakes his own death in trying to get away from his alcoholic father’s control, the pattern is established. It continues until the conclusion, when he must discover his own identity, which is “Who am I?” at the Phelps’ house. Huck is relieved to learn that Tom’s Aunt Sally has mistaken him for Tom. Huck’s life and freedom, as well as his moral development, are dependent on this cycle of symbolic death and rebirth and the continuous twist and turns that it entails.

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