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fanuzzir
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Fathers and sons

This is a broad discussion topic than can engage readers of either Adventures of H. F. or Finn. It's not often recognized as a theme of Adventures of Huck Finn because Huck spends the beginning and the end of the novel with women, and the middle with his "adoptive father/mother" Jim. That's what makes Jon's novel such a great feat of speculation: it fills in an otherwise obvious relationship within Twain's novel that the author makes no small effort to limit.
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jonclinch
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Re: Fathers and sons

Then again, it's possible to consider not just Jim but Colonel Grangerford, Colonel Sherburn, the King, the Duke, and perhaps some others that I'm forgetting as a long series of possible role models for male adulthood. And it might be useful to note that their roles all play out while Huck is on the river, in between the maternal and domestic scenes that bracket the novel...



fanuzzir wrote:
This is a broad discussion topic than can engage readers of either Adventures of H. F. or Finn. It's not often recognized as a theme of Adventures of Huck Finn because Huck spends the beginning and the end of the novel with women, and the middle with his "adoptive father/mother" Jim. That's what makes Jon's novel such a great feat of speculation: it fills in an otherwise obvious relationship within Twain's novel that the author makes no small effort to limit.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Fathers and sons



jonclinch wrote:
And it might be useful to note that their roles all play out while Huck is on the river, in between the maternal and domestic scenes that bracket the novel...




Yes. The space of the transient, the fleeting, the improvisional relationship that ironically, and tragically has the most hold on Huck. No amount of settled, stable, home-centered expression of love can make this young man feel he is wanted or that he belongs.
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Everyman
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Re: Fathers and sons



jonclinch wrote:
Then again, it's possible to consider not just Jim but Colonel Grangerford, Colonel Sherburn, the King, the Duke, and perhaps some others that I'm forgetting as a long series of possible role models for male adulthood.

Yuck. When you string them out that way all in one list, one has to wonder why Twain had so little respect for men. Is there a decent white man in the whole book?

(And how about in Finn -- is there a decent white man in Finn?)
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jd
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jd
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Re: Fathers and sons



fanuzzir wrote:


jonclinch wrote:
And it might be useful to note that their roles all play out while Huck is on the river, in between the maternal and domestic scenes that bracket the novel...




Yes. The space of the transient, the fleeting, the improvisional relationship that ironically, and tragically has the most hold on Huck. No amount of settled, stable, home-centered expression of love can make this young man feel he is wanted or that he belongs.



So do you feel the river is more symbolic - in a moving along to better things way for MT huck? or the river as a sustaining and nurturing sort of symbol?,jd
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fathers and sons

Jon, what do you think? Is the river maternal or fleeting, like all the other father figures. We're getting way ahead of ourselves, I know; we'll all know the answers when we discover Jim. (My answer to most questions).
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Re: Fathers and sons

It's the world, I think. Constantly in motion, full of opportunity and grace and treachery, bearing all things.



fanuzzir wrote:
Jon, what do you think? Is the river maternal or fleeting, like all the other father figures. We're getting way ahead of ourselves, I know; we'll all know the answers when we discover Jim. (My answer to most questions).


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jd
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jd
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Re: Fathers and sons

Is there a decent man??? Surely Twain lumped all of his experience of shady characters, black and white into the pages of the book to make it entertaining and thoughtful and scary. Jim seems to have the most honor of all of them. While most of the white men have a flaw of some sort. I am brainstorming again and wonder what you think?
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fathers and sons

You'll have to see for yourself all the characters Twain trots out. Jim certainly stands alone, but the rub is that it takes Huck several chapters, much too long, to find that out.
jd
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jd
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Re: Fathers and sons



jd wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:


jonclinch wrote:
And it might be useful to note that their roles all play out while Huck is on the river, in between the maternal and domestic scenes that bracket the novel...




Yes. The space of the transient, the fleeting, the improvisional relationship that ironically, and tragically has the most hold on Huck. No amount of settled, stable, home-centered expression of love can make this young man feel he is wanted or that he belongs.



So do you feel the river is more symbolic - in a moving along to better things way for MT huck? or the river a a sustaining and nurturing sort of symbol?,jd




jd writes -
This is a spoiler if you have not finished the reading - do not read further. Huck is between two worlds and does not have a toe hold in either. He is neither black nor white and has no grounding to take root so speak and become anything more than an appendage of the river and the wild things that are on it, travelling like the rest of the flotsom and jetson with the current. He is the human form of the river, constantly changing and moving-jd
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Choisya
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Re: Fathers and sons

jd wrote:
This is a spoiler if you have not finished the reading - do not read further. Huck is between two worlds and does not have a toe hold in either. He is neither black nor white and has no grounding to take root so speak and become anything more than an appendage of the river and the wild things that are on it, travelling like the rest of the flotsom and jetson with the current. He is the human form of the river, constantly changing and moving.

Great images jd - thanks a lot.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fathers and sons

[ Edited ]
One of my favorite professors always said that Huck lives in a life of in-betweenness on the river, free from decisions and formal identity but never having a destination. Identity, particularly make identity in the US is so much about having a goal or narrative to one's life so Twain's invention here is all the more original.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 03-12-200712:24 AM

jd
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jd
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Re: Fathers and sons

Fanizzir, do you feel identity is the not present in Huck? Curious as to the why in the US we need to have identity???? Maybe, the paint fumes have got me again, - jd
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friery
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Re: Fathers and sons


fanuzzir wrote:


jonclinch wrote:
And it might be useful to note that their roles all play out while Huck is on the river, in between the maternal and domestic scenes that bracket the novel...




Yes. The space of the transient, the fleeting, the improvisional relationship that ironically, and tragically has the most hold on Huck. No amount of settled, stable, home-centered expression of love can make this young man feel he is wanted or that he belongs.





Ah, but the river is maternal.

I'm reminded of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. (And, yes, Joyce also makes allusions to Huck Finn in the book).

The final passage of Finnegans Wake describes the river Liffey in Dublin joining the ocean as a dying old woman:

And it's old and old it's sad and old it's
sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad
father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere
size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me
seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them
rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo
moremens more. So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me.
All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!
So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you
done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now
under whitespread wings like he'd come from Arkangels, I sink
I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes,
tid. There's where. First. We pass through grass behush the bush
to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us
then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thous-
endsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a
long the
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jonclinch
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Re: Fathers and sons

But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...
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friery
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Re: Fathers and sons


jonclinch wrote:
But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...




If a cigar were just a cigar, we former English majors wouldn't have anything to talk about.

No, I think the cigar has to be a paradigm of Wester European hegemony over the indigenous peoples of the New World.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Fathers and sons

Identity is an important aspect of father-son relationships, whether you adopt a Freudian perspective or some common sense variant. Gender, as we all have discovered at some point, is learned within this relationship dynamic, so it stands to reason that Huck was either losing or gaining something by not being raised under his father's influence.

Another factor in the American concept of identity: the frontier myth as crucible of American manhood. That's theme going back to James Fenimore Cooper, and it takes flight in the absence of a strong father figure. For those looking for larger significance, that paternal would mean, England, yes, and the open horizon of America the freedom of self-determination.

So is Huck living the American frontier myth by running away from family or does he inherit from his father the qualities that make him ill-fitted for polite society?
jd
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jd
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Re: Fathers and sons



fanuzzir wrote:
Identity is an important aspect of father-son relationships, whether you adopt a Freudian perspective or some common sense variant. Gender, as we all have discovered at some point, is learned within this relationship dynamic, so it stands to reason that Huck was either losing or gaining something by not being raised under his father's influence.

Another factor in the American concept of identity: the frontier myth as crucible of American manhood. That's theme going back to James Fenimore Cooper, and it takes flight in the absence of a strong father figure. For those looking for larger significance, that paternal would mean, England, yes, and the open horizon of America the freedom of self-determination.

So is Huck living the American frontier myth by running away from family or does he inherit from his father the qualities that make him ill-fitted for polite society?




I wonder if Huck is not fit for society because he chooses to not fit in. He had ample opportunity to fit in with the widow and her example but as soon as possible thought he would get rid of his shoes and sneak off. Twain gives Huck a more democratic opportunity to have male influence in all the male characters and allows Huck to embrace all of them for a short time until he can become his own man/boy, including his relationship with Jim. -jd
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