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Interesting Facts: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

In writing Huck Finn, Twain began the period of realism in American literature and achieved a number of firsts for American literature.

  • Huck Finn is first modern American book.
  • Huck Finn is the first American book with sociological implications (slavery, racism, domestic abuse, alcoholism).
  • Huck Finn is the first American book with real speech characterizations.
  • Huck Finn is the first American book to raise the question of what happened to the American Dream.

Background  on Twain's novel, 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is set in various locales along the Mississippi River during the 1830ís or 1840ís. At that period in American history, the region (now known as the Midwest) was still a frontier area in many ways. Large stretches of land were sparsely inhabited. There were few cities and towns, and the great majority of people lived off the land, farming, hunting, fishing, and trapping for furs.
Although industrialization was still in its early stages, steam technology was becoming dominant, as evidenced by the great steamboats that plied the Mississippi River and the steam powered railroads that were becoming commonplace throughout the United States.

In rural Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Mississippi, there were few schools, and most children attended classes only long enough to learn to read and write. There were no theaters, libraries, or museums in the region, and entertainment and popular education were offered by traveling showmen, musicians, circus performers, preachers, and lecturers.

In the 1830ís and 1840s, after the industrialized states of the North had abolished slavery, there began the great national debate over its extension in the new states created from the western territories. Northerners opposed the extension of slavery, citing moral as well as practical objections. The states of the South, which were dependent on revenue obtained from the sale of crops cultivated by slave labor on large plantations, had made slavery a peculiar institution of their society. The whites of the South generally defended slavery and supported its extension into the new states of the Union. Most white Americans, however, no matter where they lived and what their attitudes toward slavery were, agreed that black people were intellectually and morally inferior to white people. Racist beliefs, attitudes, and behavior that would be considered reprehensible today were commonplace then.

Huck Finn is also significant for its impact on American literature; in fact, Ernest Hemingway [another famous American author] once said that Huck Finn is the basis for all modern American fiction. 


Information found on:

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