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Critical ChildrenThe Use of Childhood in Ten Great Novels$
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Richard Locke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157834

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157834.001.0001

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Mark Twain’s Free Spirits and Slaves

Mark Twain’s Free Spirits and Slaves

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

(p.50) 2 Mark Twain’s Free Spirits and Slaves
Critical Children

Richard Locke

Columbia University Press

This chapter studies the characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain used Tom Sawyer to celebrate American democracy in its centennial year, but nine years later, he used Huckleberry Finn to lament the countries' self-betrayal through racial and cultural slavery. Despite the books' reputations as exuberant declarations of independence, both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are more about confinement and enclosure than freedom. Twain imagines freedom in these books more as a resistance to various kinds of imprisonment than as a state of being to be explored and affirmed in itself.

Keywords:   Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, American democracy, racial slavery, cultural slavery, freedom

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