AN INTRODUCTION TO HUCKLEBERR Y FINN
As you read this book, you will be reading not only the story of the boy Huckleberry Finn, but also the story of the boy Samuel Clemens, or, as he later named himself, Mark Twain. Sam (I'm sure that's what he was called when a boy) grew up in a town just north of St. Louis, Missouri, right on the Mississippi River, at a time in American history when this area of the country was the Far West. He was, then, a Westerner by birth and upbringing. And he was a Southerner, for Missouri at that time was a slave territory. Many people, whom Sam Clemens knew and loved as a boy, held slaves of their own.
It's not at all surprising, then, that the boy Huck Finn has many of the characteristic beliefs, ideas, and hopes that the boy Sam Clemens must have had as he grew up. Huck sees nothing strange in Miss Watson's owning another human being, Jim; he sees nothing unusual in his father's lack of a steady job; he sees nothing frightening in the River, for the west bank of the Mississippi was as much his playground as a vacant lot, back yard, or city street might be to kids growing up today. Because of the surroundings in which he grew up, Huck became a boy who could manage for himself; and he became a boy whose ideas (about slavery, for instance), beliefs (in superstition), and attitudes (toward "civilization") are no doubt quite different from yours. You should constantly remind yourself of these differences as you read the book.
Another thing you'll have to keep in mind is that Huck has been very strongly influenced by Tom Sawyer. Huck tells us at the beginning that we don't know about him unless we've read