Tag Archives: Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

James T. Farrell on Mark Twain


James T. Farell, ‘Twain’s Huckleberry Finn’ – NYTBR 12-12-1943


Posted here (PDF above) is an article by James T. Farrell:

“Twain’s ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and the Era He Lived In”

The New York Times Book Review

December 12, 1943

I have been an admirer of Farrell ever since I read Studs Lonigan. (I can thank my wife for calling my attention to it.) Farrell’s novel of boyhood recalls Twain and gave him insight into Huckleberry Finn.

There is an unforgettable passage in Chapter XXXI of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in which Tom wrestles with his scruples, his conscience. He knows he should do “the right thing” and turn Jim, the runaway slave, in, but he just can’t bring himself to do it:

“[I] got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now. …

I can’t resist saying: what a great passage!


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2023