what is message behind the story
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The theme of Huckleberry Finn is that the "civilized" way of life, where black people are treated as slaves is wrong and that the "natural" way of life that Huckleberry lives and knows to be right through his natural moral compass is the right way of life.
The message of Huckleberry Finn is that we should listen to our hearts and live according to our natural moral compasses as opposed to abiding by civilized rules.
I agree with Jason.
another theme is the slavery issue and how huck always seems to be making comments to him hint at how blacks are not as civilized or smart as the white people
I agree with everyone, but I think it is important to understand the books depiction of Jim. I am doing my senior thesis on the novel. The ending leaves much to be desired according to most. Twain creates this wonderful story of a boy following his heart while revealing Jim to be a nurturing man. Yet with the re introduction of Tom Sawyer in the final chapters the story takes on a comical unsatisfying ending. If you are an African American reading this book how well does the stories message of a sound heart translate when you consider what Jim was put through. Tom sawyer new Jim was free yet felt it would be in good fun to plan his elaborate escape. Some say that Jim is portrayed as a "submissive stage negro". and that it is "a well meant nobel sounding error" that works well for a white audience. On the other hand some critics believe Jim's humanity shines through the horrible institution of slavery.
You can create various answers to what the message is behind the story or what the intentions were of mark Twain. I would propose you consider how this novel is American through the controversy it has created.
bj, I think the horrible ending is Twain's treatise against formal education. Tom, the "properly" educated boy, treats Jim abominably but in a manner compatible with "civilized" society. Huck, the "uncivilized, uneducated" boy, treats Tom with humanity. Twain continues to illustrate the contrast between Huck's sound heart and deformed conscience.