Once again Huckleberry Finn is under attack. The crime? Exposing
too clearly the foibles, the thinking, the condition of "a boy who minds his
To wish Huck and JIm up the Ohio River misses the major refrain of the book,
Mrs. Smiley (Harpers January 1995, thank you Scott Holmes, Nita A@aol).
While we want Jim to be free that refrain comes to haunt us. He
"gets sold down the river."
Don't we all (even power honchos like Richard Nixon) crave more
power, more control, more influence than we at present have? Doesn't
everyone wish for respite from problems? But, in the end, isn't there a
fatalistic "sold down the river" for us all? We age, we grow infirm,
Maybe it is impolite to point fingers at the foibles of humanity. But
that won't make them go away. Huckleberry Finn solves this dilemna by
remaining resilient, looking forward to "going west." So as for the impact
of social ills, in Huck's view, the answer lies in geographical distance.
In today's world, we may not have the luxury of geographical distance, but
the power of the imagination can still rise above the problems which afflict
us. Hurray I say for Huckleberry Finn and so much for preaching to the