Should Huck Finn Be In The Canon Of American Lit?

796 Words4 Pages
Mark Twain’s seminal novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, deserves to be included in the canon of great American literature due to its pioneering use of common speech, its daring relationship between Huck and Jim, and the moral progress made by Huck despite the failure of the ending. Its “radical autonomy” (Bollinger 32) helps define modern American literature, which makes it “one of the central documents of American culture” (Trilling 1). At this time in American history, many believed that “the mark of a truly literary product was a grandiosity and elegance not to be found in the common speech” (Trilling 6). Twain’s use of common speech and a number of dialects help the reader make connections to each character and arrive at conclusions about them. Huckleberry Finn begins, “You don’t know me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter” (Twain 7). This opening passage helps the reader assume that, due to his use of slang, Huck is not well educated. The way Twain wrote allowed the reader to get a sense of the way people spoke back then and how different society was from the society of today. Due to his use of the common language, “’all modern American literature comes directly from … Huckleberry Finn” (Trilling 6). Alone, this profound influence on all American literature makes Huckleberry Finn worthy of being included in the canon of great American literature, but his exploration into a revolutionary relationship between a white boy and a runaway slave make it even more worthy. The relationship between Huck and Jim is profound due to its progression throughout the novel. When Huck first leaves Jackson Island with Jim, he still views Jim as a “nigger.” He believes in the common stereotypes about “niggers,” such as that “you can’t learn a nigger to argue” (Twain 104), and he plays tricks on Jim.
Open Document