This is part of Luker and Sorcia’s “Back to School Special” month of titles. If you’d like us to rip a new hole in something particularly awful you recall from school-days of yore, put it on our Suggestions Page or in the comments! Also, don’t forget to vote on Luker’s last name!
Fuck Hinn — a story of racism and cross-dressing written in elitist vernacular, with under-developed themes of homoeroticism.
Punch him the fuck out, Jim.
By Sorcia MacNasty
Oh, this book. I don’t know what god-awful (and probably male) powers in the universe got together and decided to mind-rape the fuck out of a generation, but I had to read this goddamn thing 4 times before I was 22. That’s 4 times too many, loyal readers. If you didn’t have to read it, you’re probably Canadian/European, home-schooled, well-adjusted or some combination of those things. I personally believe that it’s wide-spread in American schools simply because crotchety old department heads of public school English departments get their jollies from allowing the N-word back into the classroom in an official capacity. You stay KKKlassy, public schools.
Spoiler Alert for any lucky soul who has escape this nonsense! Ok, we get Huck Finn, a filthy youth clearly in the pay of Samuel Clemens, since he opens the story with a foreal plug for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Thanks for the lesson in marketing, ya douche. Then he SUMS UP Tom Sawyer for us. God. Really?! Long story short, Huckleberry has been adopted by a kindly widow, inherited a pile of gold stolen from robbers and is chafing under the Widow’s well-meaning efforts to turn him into less of a filthy urchin than he is. Naturally, he resents this. I guess we’re suppose to side with him or laugh at him (Twain goes out of his ever-loving way to make Huck appear as superstitious and ignorant as humanly possible, because I guess under-educated abused children of alcoholics are hilarious?) but it’s hard when you’re distracted by the N-word being thrown around like pinata candy.
Anyhow, he gets kidnapped by his dad, fakes his own death and hooks up with Jim, a runaway slave, whereupon they raft down the Mississippi River together and have ridiculous “adventures.” Wocka-wocka — Huck dresses like a girl! (Just like Tom did in Tom Sawyer — what the good hell, Twain? You need to tell us something?) These “adventures” allow Twain the opportunity to heartlessly mock all walks and forms of Southerners, good and bad alike, including cruel lampoons that make fun of poems written for DEAD CHILDREN. Nice. Defenders of Twain say that he is deliberately trying to exploit the failures of Reconstruction, which is fine, except that the lazy bastard never bothers to suggest how to actually correct or escape the situation. He just criticizes the shit out of everything and we’re all supposed to be “Har-dee-har-har!” He was like a 19th-century Glen Beck, and just as humorous.
Keep in mind that this whole thing was written by a financially-inept tool who fame-whored his way back into good credit-standing, even lecturing while his daughter died of fucking meningitis while visiting her childhood home — the one her dad thoughtfully lost to outstanding debt. Where’s the mockery of dead kids now, Clemens?
There is one good character and one good moment in this book. Jim, the runaway slave, is both smarter and kinder than any other character, and also provides the few moments of genuine humor (i.e. not Minstrel Show in quality), usually when he’s fucking with Huck. He’s also the only one on the raft who has a good reason for running away, since he’s a SLAVE. The one good moment is when Huck finally (and I do mean FINALLY, it only takes the little sonofabitch 31 chapters to get there) decides to NOT turn Jim into the authorities despite the law-breaking involved in harboring a runaway slave. He doesn’t actually decide that slavery is wrong, of course, but he does realize: “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” — hell being better than turning over your best pal to be lynched (Twain 202). And that’s a pretty profound moment. If the book ended right there, we’d be gang-busters.
Unfortunately, what follows gets off-the-chain ludicrous instead. From Chapter 34 to the end, mother-fucking Tom Sawyer shows back up (there is even MORE mistaken identity… Seriously, did Twain have any other goddamn tricks in his bag from creative writing class?!) and the reader is treated to a slap-stick account of the two boys torturing the good-shit out of poor Jim, who is locked in a cabin, awaiting punishment for his running away. What the Fuck, Huck? You’d rather go to hell than turn in your pal, but Tom shows up and you’re totally cool with putting rats and snakes in his cabin?!
There is all kinds of stupid little boy pranking throughout the last ten chapters, leaving any sensible reader exasperated, confused and annoyed. How do they get away with still teaching this shit in schools? Twain is happy to allow the boys to complete revert to a level of immaturity that is baffling, and, in the light of Huck’s newfound humanity, depressingly pathetic. It’s impossible to draw a decent lesson or moral, because Tom KNOWS that Jim has been freed all along and is still happy to devise tortures for the man while he waits, psychologically tormented by the knowledge he might be branded or even lynched for running away. The only good part is that Tom does, in fact, get shot. Unfortunately, he lives.
In sum: Mark Twain just made you sit through 30 chapters of excrutiatingly boring 19th-century hijinks, and when he finally bequeaths a decent moral, he reverts right back to even more preposterous hijinks. For God’s sake, WHY?! The only explanation I can come up with is that he was a complete and utter LAZY ASS. Twain at his desk: “Oh, man, my brain is tired from writing a few compelling and moralistic sentences. Better get back to the cartoon bullshit. Immortalized literature — here I come! BWAHAHAHAHA!” And then I picture him tossing back his shaggy head in maniacal laughter before inviting Tesla over to talk about coils.
SO, what is billed as a poignant and funny bildungsroman is in fact a pack of lies. There is no “coming of age” when the hero reverts back to childhood, jackass. Funny? I guess, if you completely hate yourself. Poignant? Sure, for misanthropic recluses. Whatever good parts of this book that were initially celebrated were first noticed by predominantly white male critics who waxed philosophic about Twain’s message about boyhood and freedom. Fine. I get that times change regarding values and ideals, especially in literary trends. But why on earth are we still shoving this particular, and very convoluted message down teenage throats? Idiots will tell you: Oh, it’s such a good story about Racism/Reconstruction/Vernacular language/Coming of Age.
I beg to fucking differ. You want a good book about racism? Read Frederick Douglas or Ralph Ellison. You want a good book on the Reconstruction? Read Jubilee by Margaret Walker. Want to read dialect and high-quality dialogue? Read anything by Kate Chopin. Need an honest coming-of-age story? Good fucking christ — take your pick! And really, I am pretty sick of reading about racism and the Reconstruction from any Old, Dead, WHITE guy. There are too many alternatives, and we are doing students and the literary canon a disservice by still including this tripe.
Some particularly absurd lines:
— “I don’t take no stock in dead people.” (33)
You and everyone whose seen The Sixth Sense, Huck honey. Seriously, though, Huck is so fucking superstitious that this line is just patently dumb. It’s Twain’s sad attempt to show how silly the Bible seems to young people — ooooh, what a radical idea, Twain! Tell us more about the malaise of teenagery and their distaste for adults being boring. Blah.
— “Git up and hump yourself, Jim! There ain’t a minute to lose!” (81)
Har. This is funny because I’m a twelve-year old.
— “I seen it warn’t no use wasting words — you can’t learn a nigger to argue. So I quit.” (95)
Wow, Twain, thanks for the lesson in hateful racial assumptions.
— “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.” (216)
Oh, the irony. He says this about two assholes who get tarred/feathered and right before he viciously goes along with Tom’s plan to make Jim’s imprisoned life a complete hellish misery.
Huck and Mark Twain TRIED to be good. They really did, and they even were, for a little space in a misguided time. But it’s just like Homer Simpson said, “Son, you tried your hardest and you failed. The lesson here is, never try.”