The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Knowledge vs. Experience in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 11th Grade

“Human beings can be awful cruel to each other” (Twain 294). Nobody understands the human condition better than Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Though he is just of boy of little education and lacking sophisticated culture, he gained his knowledge the hard way, through experience. On the opposite pole is Tom Sawyer, a minor character who plays a major role. He understands the world around him through one thing, books. His battle cry seems to be, “Because it ain’t in the books so—that’s why” (12). Understanding these two opposites at work is to appreciate why Twain ended the book the way he did. Tom is a focal character in the beginning, showing his bravado and how much Huck doesn’t know. In the end, he must return to show how much the experienced Huck has grown, and the consuming importance of experiencing life instead of just reading about it.

Mark Twain wrote from experience, and though he was not highly educated (he left school at age fourteen), he had a keen understanding of the true gem of intelligence. In writing Huckleberry Finn, he only wrote what he knew from his own experience, and he never embellished upon what he did not know. “Mark Twain was unfamiliar with the territory. He was searching for a...

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