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Paul Berkowitz <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 26 Jul 1995 21:09:28 -0700
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One might speculate that Sunday school did have an influence on _Huck
Finn_, a large one.  Huck's entire character is set up to be the opposite
of a Sunday-school child.  The power that fires the book is that Huck,
the outlaw, the uncivilized, the Godless, is actually morally superior to
his Sunday-school counterparts, although Huck himself would never dream
to say so.  In Huck's day, the issue was slavery and whether Jim should
go free. Certainly Huck was concerned about violating the criminal laws,
but in Huck's darkest hour he is most concerned about the sure jeopardy he
is placing on his eternal soul for helping a slave break free.  I haven't
the time to build the case brick by brick, but I do believe that a good
case can be built that being cooped up in Sunday school without the
courage of a Huck Finn to break free of the teachings of the elders had a
large influence on the grown up Sam Clemens who finally did break free,
albeit mostly with his pen.

Paul Berkowitz