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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

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What is the narrative structure of Huckleberry Finn?

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Huckleberry Finn has a three-part narrative structure. The first eleven chapters take place in or around "civilization," which is represented by the world of St. Petersburg, Missouri. These chapters detail how both Huckleberry Finn and Jim escape this world. Huckleberry feigns his own death to evade the civilizing grasp of the Widow Douglas. Jim flees the Widow Douglas as well, when he learns she is planning to sell him. Both Huck and Jim converge on Jackson's Island and decide to travel by raft together down the Mississippi River.

The second part of the book, lasting for twenty chapters, is episodic, recounting memorable events and moments during their journey. It focuses on the growing closeness of Huck and Jim as they battle adversity together.

The third and final section, which lasts twelve chapters, takes place at or near Pikesville. It is about freeing Jim.

The novel is structured as a bildungsroman or coming-of-age story. In it, Huck matures and develops his own moral compass when he refuses to turn in Jim and rejects the upside-down morality of the slave-owning South.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an 1884 novel by Mark Twain, detailing the travels of the titular character as he flees civilization with an escaped black slave, Jim.

The story is told as if narrated directly by Huck Finn, who skips around and forgets important details. As a vernacular, dictated novel, the story is told in straight order, without long flashbacks or foreknowledge of coming events (see Huck's astonishment at the actual status of Jim, for example). In this sense, it doesn't follow any specific narrative path, instead being a casual, meandering portion of Huck's life. Although there is danger, tension, and resolution, much of it (such as Huck's brief masquerade as a girl) seems random, having little long-term effect on the plot.

Broadly speaking, it falls under the generic three-act structure: Huck takes on a quest (help Jim escape to the North), undergoes trials (his abusive father, moral conflict over Jim, a violent family feud, the Duke and King), and finally wins victory (Jim is freed).

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